IN THE PARISHES OF
SCOONIE #> WEMYSS
On the Leven in 1870.
AND. S. CUNNINGHAM,
AUTHOR OF "INVF.RKEITHING AND THE NAVAL BASE,
" ROMANTIC CULROSS,"
" BURGH LIFE IN THE OLDEN TIME, &C."
PURVES & CUNNINGHAM,
"LEVEN ADVERTISER AND WEMYSS GAZETTE" OFFICE.
SITTING in the autumn of 1904 on the knoll which for
centuries was the churchyard of the Parish of Scoonie,
but which is to-day spoken of as "The Cemetery," a friend
whispered in my ear that I might do for Scoonie and
Wemyss what I had done for Inverkeithing and Culross.
I then came under promise to try. I have tried, and this
little book is the result.
I desire specially to acknowledge my indebtedness to
the " Memorials of the Family of Wemyss of Wemyss,"
by Sir William Fraser; to Mr B. G. E, Wemyss of Wemyss
Castle, for the facilities which he gave me to consult old
documents; to the Rev. A. T. Grant, Chaplain of St Mary,
Star of the Sea, for the light he cast on seeming difficul-
ties; and to Mr W. Dalrymple, Leven, for the help he
gave me in tracing the history of the different Golf Clubs
passed under review in the book.
AND. S. CUNNINGHAM.
LEVEN, November 1905.
THE PARISH OF SCOONIE.
Baptist Church 54
Burgh of Leven .... .... 31-38
Banks and other Buildings 56
Census Returns 2
Chief Magistrates 39
Customs of Other Days - 86
Education in the Parish 113
Porman U.F. Church 48
Fife Coal Company's Works - 122
Greig Institute - 54
Gas Company .........85
Golf Links and Clubs 95
Harbour of Leven 32
House of Durie ... 18
Industries, Old and New, of Burgh and District 60
Leven, The River - - 57-75
Origin of the Name of Scoonie 1
Parish Council 82
Stage Coach and Railway 83
Scoonie Kirk, from Earliest Times to Present Day - - 3-25
Scoonie Burial Places 91
St John's U.F. Church 45
S. Margaret's Episcopal Church 51
Situation of Leven - ' 84
Stone, Jerome 87
Valuation of Burgh and Parish 81
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven - - 128
Buckhaven, Town, of - - - - - - 173
,, Original Inhabitants of 175
,, Fishing Industry of 179
,, Net Manufacturing and other Works - - 188
Harbour of 183
Caves of Wemyss : - - 189
Census and Valuation Returns 126
Ecclesiastical History 190
Educational History 244
Innerleven and Dubbieside 129
History of Church .... 134
Kirkland Village - - 165
Macduff Castle - - - 202
Methil as a Shipping Port ... . 141
,, as a Burgh of Barony 143
Dock of To-day 149
,, First Harbour of - 142
Coal Working at - - - - - - 144
Saltpans - - 156
,, Churches 161
Muiredge Collieries .... . 154
Net Manufacturing 188
Wemyss Castle - - - - 203
,, Family ... - 264
,, East, Village of - - 211
,, West, Village of 233
,, Colliery 251
,, Tramways 283
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Scoonie Kirk of 1775 - ----- 17
Scoonie Kirk of To-day L >;j
Durie House - - - 18
Leven Harbour of 1855 - 35
Mr Andrew Wilkie .... 39
Mr C. Adamson - 40
Leven Cross - 41
Leven St John's U.F. Church 44
Leven Forman U.F. Church - - . - . . 49
S. Margaret's Episcopalian Church 52
Durie Foundry - - - 66
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Leven Oil Mills 68
Dossie Bay '---68
Wemyss Sawmills - - - - - - - - - 71
Millfield Paper Works ------- 72
Hawkslaw Spinning Mills ------- 78
The Scoonie Stone -------- 92
Innerleven and Thistle Golf Clubs ----- 97
Mr John Adamson - - - 100
Mr W. Shepherd 101
Mr J. 0. Shepherd 103
Mr John Ireland - 105
Leven Ladies' Golf Club - ... - 108
Lundin Golf Club House Ill
Bird's-Eye View of Leven - - 114
Leven High Street - - - - - - - -114
Ex-Provost White 116
Sir John Gilmour 118
Montrave House - - - - - - - -119
Mr C. Carlow 124
Seal of Burgh of Buckhaven ------- 128
Innerleven ---------- 130
Methil from Bayview 143
Mr Archibald Bowman - - 185
Denbeath Washer 187
Court Cave, East Wemyss 201
Macduff Castle .... - 203
Wemyss Castle - 209
East Wemyss Established Church 213
West Wemyss 235
Earlseat Mines - - 255
Mr R. G. E. Wemyss - - - - 281
Wemyss Tramway Route . - - - 285
R. G. E. WEMYSS, ESQ.
OF WEMYSS AND TORRIE,
AND HIS WIFE,
LADY EVA WEMYSS,
THIS BOOK IS
The Parish of Scoonie.
QCOONIE is one of the smallest parishes in Scotland.
^ Its extreme length does riot extend four and three-
quarter miles, and it does not measure more than two
and three-quarter miles in breadth at any point. On the
west it is separated from the parish of Wemyss by the
river Leven. Kennoway, Kettle, and Cults bound it on
the north, and Largo on the east, and at the north-east
extremity, as it is neatly put in an old document, the
"three parishes of Scoouie, Largo, and Ceres, and the
Presbyteries of Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, and Cupar, meet
in one point." The now famous Scoonie burn, which makes
the home green on the Leven Golf Course the most sport-
ing on the links, takes its rise in Kennoway, and falls into
the Forth a little to the east of the town of Leven ; while
the river Leven on the west throws more water into the
sea than any other river in the " Kingdom." The coast
is flat and sandy, but amidst swelling knolls and scooped
out hollows the surface soon rises, and at Kilmux, which
is situated at the northern fringe of the parish, an altitude
of six hundred feet is reached. The parish contains-about
The name Scoonie is derived from the Gaelic word
or fikoen, which signifies a rent or ravine, and if
visitors to the district will only take the time to go to the
2 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
" Siller Hole " and follow the course of the Scoonie-
Aitheruie burn for a short distance, they will not fail to
arrive at the conclusion that the name is an exceedingly
appropriate one. The population returns made to Dr
Webster in 1755 brought out a total of 1528 souls, and
in 1791 the total was 1675, an increase of 147 in thirty-
Here is a table giving the Government census of the
Parish from the earliest possible date to 1901 :
1801 - - - 1681 1861 - - - 3257
1811 - - 1726 1871 - - 3178
1821 2024 1881 - 3730
1831 2566 1891 - 4693
1841 - 2836 1901 - - 6342
1851 - 3115
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of these returns is
the fact that all through they show a steady increase.
An increase every decade is all the more remarkable when
it is kept in mind that since 1801 Scoonie, like many
other small parishes in Scotland, has again and again ex-
perienced an almost complete collapse of its chief industries,
and the people have had to adapt themselves to an ever-
changing order of things. Away back in the distant past
the fish of the river Leven were a source of considerable
wealth to the community, and the port of Leven owned a
little fleet of vessels. The click of the weaver's shuttle
was at one time heard at every turn in the town, and by
the river side the perpetual splash of bleaching machinery
was heard. The trout and salmon have been chased from
the Leven; the "Maggie "and "Janet" no longer enter
Leven mouth and the " safe harbour " of other days ; the
rattle of the beam of the handloom is no longer heard, and
the pictures of snow-white yarns on the bleaching greens
are only a dream and a memory.
THE PARISH OP SCOONIE. 3
Bub other industries have arisen, and most people will
be inclined to think that it is well they have arisen. Mr
Geddie, in his charming work, "The Fringes of Fife, 1 '
says : " Happily Leven is not dependent on its trade.
It has a mine of wealth in its links and sands." This looks
fine on paper. Leven is proud of its links, but it cannot
afford to ignore its industries.
Early History of Scoonie Church.
Historically we have a glimpse of the Church of Scoonis
long before we find any mention of the lands or the families
of the district. It [appears from the " Register of the
Presbytery of St Andrews" that Bishop Tudal or Tuthal-
dees, who flourished in the first half of the tenth century,
made a grant of the church of Sconyn to the Culdees of
Loch Leven. The grant must have been made previous
to 1050, for it was in that year that Tudal's successor was
appointed. How long the church existed before 1050 it is
impossible to say. The Culdees only retained possession of
the church of Sconyn for about a century. In 1152, when
the Culdees had fallen from their high estate, Robert, Bishop
of St Andrews, handed over the Monastery of Loch Leven
and "its possessions" to the Priory of St Andrews. The
church of Sconyn was one of the "possessions." In
Robert's charter Scoonie is mentioned as the "ecclesi-
astical village of Scouni." Dr Hay Fleming ventures the
opinion that in 1152 the "village" must have consisted of
a church and a manse and a few houses, and the chances
are that he is right. Some time after the transference a
payment was appointed to be made out of the revenue of
the church of Scoonie towards the building or the repair-
ing of the church of St Andrews. It may be interesting
to state that Duncan, Earl of Fife, seems to have been a
4 RAMBLES IX SCOOXIE AXD WEYMSS.
party to the handing over of the church by Bishop Robert.
Some time before 1200 he granted a charter to the Priory
of St Andrews, to which he gave the "church of Scouni,
and the lands belonging to the same church, with tythes
and oblations, and with all rights and benefits of all kinds
belonging to the said church." In 1 243, when Alexander
III. was King of Scotland, the church was dedicated
to St Memme by Bishop Bernham. In the old taxation
roll it is entered as 33 inerks. The Rev. A. M. Grant,
who made a special study of the history of the parish while
resident in Leven, computes that there must have been as
many as twenty to twenty -five vicars in Scoonie between
1100 and the Reformation of 15(30, and of the number the
name of only one solitary vicar can be traced namely,
that of Andrew Sibbald. In these early times the churches
paid taxes to the Crown and the Pope of Rome, and the
following comparative statement shows the relative value
of Scoonie as compared with other churches in the
After the Reformation.
When the Reformation of 1560 came, the monks were
driven from the monasteries and the vicars from the
manses, and a new order of things introduced. Few of
the people could read, and to this there fell to be added
the fact thai the apostles of the new faith found it difficult
TltE PARISH OF SCOONIE. O
to get men who were able to take the pulpits of the different
parishes. In the hope of meeting the situation as far as
possible, the Scottish Reformers appointed a temporary
kind of office-bearers, called Readers, to read the Common
Prayers and the Scriptures in the churches. Readers
who had made such progress in the knowledge of the
Scriptures as to be able to exhort the people were known
by the name of Exhorters. No young man could become
a reader until he had reached the age of twenty-one years.
Although the choice was much restricted, every possible
care was taken to keep flippant individuals from the ranks
of the readers, and mediocrity was got rid of by the con-
ditions attached to the post. It was necessary that the
reader should be " endued with gravity and discretion,"
lest by his lightness the prayers or Scriptures read should
be of " lesse price or estimation." If after holding the
office for two years the reader had not advanced to the
position of one who could exhort and explain the Scrip-
tures, he was removed from his office on the plea that
men who were not, in a reasonable time, " able to edify
the Kirk" should not be "perpetually sustained upon the
charge of the Kirk." John Knox founded the parish
schools of Scotland, where the young were taught to read,
and if any boy showed a special aptitude for learning he
was trained for the ministry. The principle was enforced
its connection with the early teachers and preachers in the
Reformed Church. The aim was to supply the churches
with good readers, who should be gradually advanced to
the position of exhorters, and from that of exhorters to
the more advanced platform of ministers. Ministers were
placed in charge of several churches, but they had the
assistance of readers and exhorters.
6 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
The First Protestant flinister.
In the stirring times which followed the Reformation,
I find that the churches of Scoonie and Kennoway were
grouped under one minister, the Rev. John Symsoun, who,
up to the date of his being called to the ministry (1566),
had been schoolmaster of Kennoway. As a minister he
was located in the parish of Scoonie, and so faithfully did
he perform the duties of his dual office that in 1574 he was
also placed in charge of Mcthil and Markinch, a corre-
sponding increase being made to his stipend. Symsoun
had under him readers at Kennoway, Methil, and Mark-
inch. The pastor had a stipend of something like <120,
while the readers drew something like 13 6s 8d annually.
In addition to the stipends, they participated in the
income which came from the kirk lands.
Symsouu was succeeded in 1580 by Allan Lamonth, a
native of St Andrews, who was presented to the charge
by the " Scottish Solomon," James VI. Lamonth's two
sons. Thomiis and Walter, followed, and then came Robert
Cranstown, who was translated from Lathrisk, and had
the honour of being presented by Charles I. Cranstown's
ministry was not a long one from 1632 to 1643 but
short as the time was he had a most unfortunate ex-
perience. While conducting a service in Scoonie church
in 1641 his manse caught tire, and his clothing arid the
Session records were destroyed. Details of the incident
are thus described in an old record : "The minister had
his chamber in Durie burnt with fyre, which fell out in
his chamber-chimley in time of sermon, 28th Feb. 1641,
to his great losse and skaith of many cloathes, buiks, and
other uair, ;ind among the rest the session buik was in his
chamber." Cranstown fell on sleep in 1643, in the 54th
year of his age.
THE PARISH OP SCOONIE. 7
A Famous Covenanter.
Cranstown was succeeded by Alex. Moncrieff, who was
a strict Presbyterian, and who, protesting against Episco-
pacy and the usurping power of the times, became a leader
among the Covenanters. Moncrieff was an A.M. of Edin-
burgh. He was on the list for Kirkcaldy in 1631, but
missed the prize in the "Lang Toun." When Robert
Cranstoun departed this life, Moncrieff was one of the
applicants for the post, and he had the honour of being
presented by Charles I. in June 1613, and in September
of the same year he was ordained to the pastorate of
Scoonie. The year of Moncrieff s ordination was an excit-
ing year in the history of the churches of the " Kingdom."
In October the " Solemn League and Covenant " was sub-
scribed at Dunfermline, and the ancient city gave the key
note to the other Presbyterian churches in Fife. Before
Moncrieff had been many weeks in Scoonie he showed that
his leanings were entirely with the Reformation party.
When the Church became broken up into factions he took
the side of the stricter Presbyterians or Protesters, and as
a Protester he was persecuted almost to the death. Mon-
crieff was a zealous worker, and had he been allowed to
toil on in the parish under the flag hoisted by John Knox,
he would have won golden opinions among the parishioners.
Lament in his Diary gives us an interesting glimpse at
Scoonie in the early days of Moricrieff's ministry. Here
are two extracts :
"1650. April 21. The communion was given at Sconie in
Fyfe. Mr Kenneth Logie, min. of Kirke Kaldie, did preach the
preparation sermon ; his text was Zech. 13, 1. Mr Sa. Ruther-
foord, min. of St Androus, did preach in the forcnone in Cant.
5, '2 ; and Mr Alex. Moncriefe, min. there, did preach afternone
in Prov. 4, 23. Mr Sam. had a lecture on the Moneday following
on the 20 c. of Mat. Gospell. At this tyme both Durie and his
8 KAMBLUS IN SCOOXIE AND WEMYSS.
lady was debarred from the label because of their malignancic.
Also at this tyme ther was no collectione fur the poore at the tabel,
as was ordinar ; this custom was discharged \>y the last Gener.
Assemb. holdin An. Do. 1649, and therefore in stead of this ther
was a collection at the church dore, both forenone and afternone."
" 1651. July 13. The foresaid day the communion was given
also at Scouie. Mr Alex. Moncriefe. min. ther, did preach the
preparation sermon. His text was Luc 1, 53 ; and on the Sabath
in the afternone his text was Luc. 1, 79. In the forenone of the
Sabath and on Moneday morneing Mr Sa. Rutherfoord did preach;
his text att both occasions was Luc. 7, 36 till 39 v. All this time
in Sconie was present, beside Mr Sa. Rutherfoord, Mr Jas. Gutherie
and Mr David Bennet, Mr Ephraim Melven, and Mr Will. Oliphant,
m. in Dumfermling. Hither did resort many strangers, so that the
thronge was great, for Mr Ephraim and Mr Da. Benet both of them
did sitt within the pulpit whille the minister had his sermon, Mr
Ephraim on the Sabath and Mr David on the Moneday."
Here is a notice of a special fast, and of the way in which
it was observed :
"1653. August 11 being Thursday ther was a fast keiped
at Sconie kirke. The day before being Wednesday Mr Alex.
Moncriefe, min. ther, did preach; his text Ps. 119, 49. On the
morrow, being the fast-day, ther was thrie sermons two in the
forenone and one in the afternone. Mr Samuel Rutherfoord,
minister att St Androus, did preach in the morning ; his lecture
the 2 chap, of Jonah, his text Revel. 3, att the end of the first
verse. In the forenone, Mr Alex. Moncriefe; his text Ps. 119,
49-50. The one came doune from the pulpit and the other went
up, in the tyme that the psalme, after the first sermon, was singing,
so that there was no intromission of the exercise, nether were the
peopell dismissed till both sermons were ended. And in the after-
none M. Samuell did preach in the same words viz., Rev. 3, 1 ; his
lecture, Ps. 130 and Ps. 131 ; he did read and expone both."
Ill these days of short sermons, we are afraid that the
congregations would not have the patience to wait for the
one coming "doune" from the pulpit, and the other going
" up," and if the ministers did not the "people dismiss"
within a reasonable time, they would be apt either to dis-
THE PARISH OF SCOONIK. 9
miss or absent themselves from the services. In May
1654, thanksgiving services were held. Mr Moncrieff had
the assistance of Rutherford, and services were conducted
on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. What happened at
the fast day services in July 1655 shows that Moncrieff 's
troubles through his being one of the stricter Presbyterians
of the times and a Protester did not end with the persecu-
tions which came from without. Lamont is worth quoting
in full on the terrible scene which took place in Scoonie
"July 22 1655. This fast was keiped by Mr Alex. Moncriefe
att Sconie ; his text on Saturday, Sunday, all clay, and Moneday
morning was E Sa., v. 1, 2, 3. This day Mr Alex. Moncriefe did
chose thrie elders, whereof Mr David Pitcairne was one. This day,
July 22nd being the Sabbath, was a great contest in words betuixt
the Lord Durie and the said Mr Alex. Moncriefe anent the chosing
of elders. All the time of this jangling, which was before the chos-
ing of the three elders, Mr Alex, was in the pulpitt, and Durie in his
own seat. James Turpie, Durie's coall-griefe, was first called upon
that day to be ane elder by the minister, bot he altogither refused,
notwithstanding that Mr Alex, told him publicklie from the pulpitt
that he was content to accept the night before ; the minister said
to him that this could be nothing else bot a suggestion of Satan.
Durie, publicklie, in the feace of the congregation, discharged
any that lie had power over, or in his grounde, to accept to
be ane elder (bot to heare the word reverentlie, and no more).
Amonge other expressions that Mr Alex, spake to Durie one was
that he called him an opposer and persecutor of the Church of
Scotland. (Observe that this was so sharpe and bitter a
contest betuixt Durie and the minister that the hearers affirmed
that the like had never beine in that place). Moreover, Durie
desyred the minister to hold his peace, and the minister desyred
Durie to hold his peace ; Durie also told that ther would be a
visitation of that church shortlie, and they would disc-erne which
of them were in the wrongn. Also, Mr Alex, spake to the Laird of
Fenges Weyms, a probationer ther ; and this gentleman desyred
Mr Alex, to goe on and chose the elders, withall telling him that
the charge of that peopell lay on him, and that he behoved att the
last day of judgment to be countabell for them. After that Mr
10 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Alex, did proceid to the chosing of the elders, wha were placed at a
tabell before the pulpitt."
After such a scene as is here graphically, if quaintly,
described, one would think that it would be a difficult
matter for elders to take their seats "before the pulpitt,"
or for the congregation to compose their minds and attend
to the " love feast " or communion without feeling that
the worshippers of Scoonie laid themselves open to the
rebuke of old "I hear that there be divisions among
you." The visitation of the congregation by Kirkcaldy
Presbytery to which Durie referred took place in August.
The names of the elders were submitted in writing by Mr
Moncrieff, but nothing worthy of Lament's notice seems to
have happened. The "jangling " between Moncrieff and
Durie went on for years, however, Lamont tells us that
in the Provincial Assembly of Fife, in 1655, "some
ministers were appointed to speak with Mr Alex. Mon-
crieff to see if they could settle the business between
' Durie and Alex.' " Five years after this Durie departed
this life. As a Protester against the errors of the times
Moncrieff was right, but he seems to have added to his
troubles by his want of tact. The scene in Scoonie church
over the action of Durie is an example of his failure to
grasp the fitness of things. Another example is provided
in September of the same year. At a meeting of the
Provincial Assembly of Fife, at St Andrews, he charged a
minister who preached the opening sermon with saying
things that had "given offence to godlie ministers." Mr
James Wood, the minister challenged, seems to have
silenced his opponent by telling him that he had not heard
what, was said, and boldly demanded the name of the
informer. In 1650, the General Assembly appointed the
ministers of Scoonie and Largo to attend Charles II. until
THE PARISH OP SCOONIE. 11
another chaplain was provided for him. Like other
Covenanters, Moncrieff and Makgill continued to pray for
the King after he was driven into exile.
The cause was worthy of the faithfulness displayed by
the ministers of Largo and Scoonie, but the King was not.
Woodrow says :
" Moncrieff was persecuted by the English for his loyalty to the
King, and his constant praying for him. His house was many
times searched and rifled by the English, and he was obliged to
hide. Upon the Sabbath he had spies set upon him, and was
closely watched where he went after preaching. Frequently he
was hotly pursued ; and one time a party of horse came after him
when fleeing, and by a special Providence, though attacked once
and again by them, by his own fortitude and resolution he got clear
of them, and escaped at that time. Thereafter in a neighbouring
congregation he was seized, and imprisoned some time, merely for
praying for the King."
In October 1658, he presented to General Monk the
document known as the "Testimony against Cromwell's
Toleration." It was signed by himself and seven minis-
ters. Woodrow says that it "exposed Moncrieff further
to the extremities of the times." Moncrieff was amongst
those who met and drew up a petition to the King. On
his Restoration, in 1660, the King did not know the men
who had been faithful to him, and Monerieff and others
were allowed to be seized and cast into prison in Edin
burgh Castle. The Marquis of Argyle was beheaded in
May 1661, and on June 1st James Guthrie, Moncrieff's
fellow prisoner, was executed. Through the intervention
of friends, Moncrieff was not led to the stake, but he was
by the Lords of the Articles robbed of all employment,
ecclesiastical or civic, in the parish of Scoonie for all time
coming. He was not allowed to come within three miles
of the parish. By the order of Archbishop Sharp, Mon-
crieff's place in Scoonie was in August 1662 filled by the
12 HAMHLKS IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
appointment of John Ramsay, an Angus Episcopalian.
Lainont tells us that after sermon there was delivered to
him (Ramsay) "the bibell, the keys of the church doore
and bell tow ; and Dury was required to be assistant to
him, which he undertook to do." The other heritors were
not present. Lament says that when Ramsay was intro-
duced to the parish, Moncrieff was under process in
On 16th July 1664, a decree was passed against him
and others for holding conventicles, arid on the 23rd the
Magistrates of Perth were appointed to seize him as a
" noted keeper of conventicles in and about Perth." In
the hope of exterminating the men of the Moncrieff school,
the Archbishop had recourse to the punishment of inter-
communing. When the sentence of intercommuning was
passed upon any one, even his nearest relatives were pro-
hibited, under severe penalties, from extending a friendly
hand to him or ministering in any way to his needs or
comforts. Sir Walter Scott speaks of the sentence of
intercommuning as the work of the " Prince of the Power
of the Air." Poor Moncrieff had this awful sentence pro-
nounced upon his head. For 27 years he was buffeted
and driven from place to place, having many hairbreadth
escapes, and if not beaten with many stripes, he certainly
had many hardships to endure. On the 6th October 1688,
in the 75th year of his age, death brought an end to his
sufferings. His remains found a last resting place in
Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh. The remains of his
wife, Ann Murray, were laid by his side. The following
is a translation of the Latin inscription on the tombstone
which marks the grave of Moncrieff :
" Alas ! stay, passc'iiger, mourn and marvel. The friend of (iod,
Christ's faithful champion, the great ornament of the Church, here
THE PARISH OF SCOOSIE. 13
lies Mr Alexander Moncrieff, of honourable parentage, minister at
Scoonie for the space of eighteen years, a notable preacher, mighty
in the Scriptures, not seldom inspired with the spirit of prophecy ;
full of faith, hope, and charity ; another Barnabas, another
Boanerges, upright in life and pure from wickedness, keeping fast
to the Reformed faith, a stout maintainer of the most pure
discipline ; who, having suffered many things from the ire of
prelates and fury of malignants, being thrust from his charge, shut
up in prison. At length being set at freedom, he exercised,
fulfilled, and adorned the ministry committed to him by the Lord,
in the worst of times, and by a sweet triumph, drew rebellious
souls unto Christ. At length, at the dawning of the day of liberty,
he was removed unto 'heavenly light, 6th October 16S8. Of his
age, 75. Here also lies his dearest spouse, Ann Murray, who,
running the course of her life by unfeigned piety, unshaken
patience, singular prudence, true Christian charity, worshipping
God, bearing the cross of Christ, managing her lawful affairs, and
helping the faithful in affliction, surrendered her soul to God 25th
October 1704. Of her age, 84."
Other Ministers of the Parish.
John Ramsay, who succeeded Moncrieff in 1662, was
only six years in the parish, having been translated to
Markinch in 1668. George Wood, a native of Crail, came
next, but his ministry was cut short by his sudden depar-
ture for England. George Landals, who was translated
from Kemback in 1680, was the minister for but two
short years. John Blair, who came from Auchtertool on
10th May 1682, does not seem to have had a great love
for their Majesties William and Mary, and had charges
brought against him of not honouring the Crown-heads in
the manner prescribed by the Synod. In 1717 he was
deposed by a committee of Synod. In the same year
Thomas Melville, a student of the University of Glasgow,
was called to the parish. He enjoyed more peaceful times
than some of his predecessors, and lived through a quiet
and uneventful ministry until October 1763, when through
14 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the burdens of old age he was compelled to demit his
charge in favour of David Swan, an assistant, who had
obtained his degree from the University of St Andrev/s.
Swan held the position of Clerk to the Synod for a good
many years, and in 1802 he had the degree of D.D. con-
ferred upon him by the University and Marischal College,
Aberdeen. Swan died in October 1812, in his 77th year
and the 49th year of his ministry. Mr Swan wrote the
article in the " Old Statistical Account of Scotland," pub-
lished in 1790.
George Brewster, a tutor in the Durie family, was the
next minister. Brewster, who was a man of considerable
literary ability, was the author of several articles which
appeared in the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia," and the
writer of the "Parish of Scoonie" for the "New Statis-
tical Account of Scotland" in 1836. He had the degree
of D.D. conferred upon him by the University of St
Andrews. Mr Brewster died in 1855, in his 75th year
and in the 42nd of his ministry. Dr Brewster was suc-
ceeded by the Rev. D. Brown, who, in 1859, accepted a
call to a charge in the " Second City " of the Empire.
The famous Scoonie Case arose over the appointment of
a successor to Mr Brown. Mr James Black wood was elected
after a three years' conflict. He was a young man of great
ability, but to the deep regret of many friends, he was cut
down at the age of 36 years, and in 1866 the pulpit was
once more vacant, The Rev. John Duncan, who was a
D.D. of St Andrews, took up duty for Mr Black wood.
He died in 1880. And then came the present pastor, the
Rev. Dr Charles Durward. Dr Durward is a native of
Aberdeen. He studied at St Andrews, and when he
accepted an assistantship in Glasgow Cathedral was an
M.A., B.D. He is Convener of the Board of Examiners
THE PARISH OF SCOONIE. 15
for the entrance and Sub-Examination of Divinity students
of St Andrews University, and in 1898 he had the gratifi-
cation of having the degree of D.D. conferred upon him
by his alma mater. The manner his services to the Uni-
versity are appreciated will be apparent when it is stated
that the Court in 1904 appointed him for a second term
as Examiner for the Degree of B.D.
Scoonie Kirk of other Days and To=da\ .
Away back in far-off days, Scoonie Church stood in the
little God's acre which now forms the cemetery for the
parish. In the middle of tjie eighteenth century the
building was in a very dilapidated state, and in 1760 it
was reported to be neither wind nor water tight. Money
was not by any means plentiful, however, and weeks and
months, and indeed years, passed without any practical
step being taken to provide a new building. Of the 1550
people in the parish upwards of 1100 were resident in
Leven, and an agitation seems to have arisen for the new
church being built in Leven. The site difficulty tended to
procrastination, and on June, 12, 1765, the Session met
and passed the following minute :
"June 12, 1765. The Session in the next place took into con-
sideration the many inconveniences to which the parish is subjected
by their being obliged to desert the church on account of its frail
condition, and appoint the Moderator to wait upon the residing
herito7-s without loss of time, and to represent to them the present
inconveniences the parish labours under, and to request them to
take the proper steps for removing these inconveniences, and
further desired the Moderator to report the result to next meeting
At a meeting of the Session in July 1765, the Moderator
reported that he had waited upon the heritors, and that
" they had now the providing of a kirk under considera-
16 RAMBLES IN SCOONIK AND AVEMYSS.
tion." While the heritors were considering the question,
the old church in Scoonie churchyard became a complete
wreck, and in February 1769 we find the Session had
before them an account for 12 12s, submitted by a joiner
for " seating the old barn in the north-east end of Leven
for the accommodation of the parish to hear public
worship." The barn was occupied for six years, the new
church in Leven having been opened in July 1775. At
that time the population of Leven was 1165. The Church
was seated for 700 hearers, and it is interesting to quote
Mr Swan's description from the " Old Statistical Account."
He says: "The Church, a neat and modern building,
with a spire, was erected 16 years ago, in the immediate
neighbourhood of Leven, being moi'e convenient for the
greater part of the parish than the old situation at
Scoonie. The manse has been inhabited about 15 years."
In 1822 the heritors were compelled to face an enlarge-
ment of the church, and the sittings were increased to
1000. By 1901 it was found that the church had once
more burst its bounds, and the present church was erected
on the site of the old building. It is seated for 1210
people. Mr P. Macgregor Chalmers, Glasgow, was the
architect. The dedication ceremony took place on Satur-
day, August 6th, 1904. Since the opening of the church
several windows have been filled in with stained glass by
friends who have for years taken a practical interest in
church life in Scoonie. The new church cost 5200. A
total of 3600, including .1000 from the heritors of the
parish, was raised by subscription, and the balance was
nearly wiped off by a bazaar which was held on the 13th,
14th, and 15th April 1905. The manse was enlarged and
repaired in 1S20, and the globe, which was about, twelve
acres, lias been partly feued.
Scoonie Kirk, 1775.
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND AVEMYSS.
The House of Durie.
By permission of]
[Mr A. Hogg, chemist.
The Durie Family figures prominently in the early
records of the parish of Scoonie. As far back as 1260,
Sir Reginald Cheyne gave a charter of the lands of Durie
to Gilbert, son of Robert of Strathearn, and grandson of
Earl Gilbert of Strathearn. This charter was confirmed
by Adam de Kilconquhar, Earl of Carrick, whose widow
married Sir Robert de Bruce of Annandale, and to whom
was born a son who took the name of Robert, and who
became King Robert the Bruce. From Gilbert, son of
Robert of Strathearn, the subsequent lairds of Durie were
The estate of Durie was held by a family of the name
of Durie from 1310 to 1554, the family terminating in an
THE PARISH OP SCOONIE. 19
heiress in the latter year. Among the most eminent
members of the Durie family was George Durie, Arch-
deacon of St Andrews, perpetual Commendator of Dun-
fermline Abbey, and the last abbot of the Abbey before
the Reformation. He was a son of John Dury of Dury,
and brother to Andrew Dury, abbot of Melrose and
Galloway. Archbishop Beaton was an uncle of the Dun-
fermline abbot, and it was with the permission of Beaton
that lie took the title of abbot or commendator of Dun-
fermline. On the death of the Archbishop in 1539, King
James V. homologated Beaton's appointment, and pro-
moted Durie to the honour and authority of the office.
Durie was Keeper of the Privy Seal in 1554, and in 1561
he accompanied the Earl of Eglinton to France for the
purpose of inducing the widowed and ill-fated Queen Mary
to return to "dear old Scotland."
When Patrick Hamilton and Walter Mill were seized
and sentenced to death by Archbishop Beaton and his
court at St Andrews, Durie cast his vote against
the martyrs. There was no end to Durie's zeal for the
Roman Catholic faith. His cousin, John Durie, was a
monk at Dunfermline. The monk embraced the Pro-
testant faith in 1563. So enraged was the Abbot at
the change of faith on the part of his relative that he
had him brought to trial for heresy, and sentenced to be
"built up between two walls" until he died. Through
the good offices of the Earl of Arran, however, the monk
was liberated, and he became one of the most uncompro-
mising opponents of Popery of his time. A biographer
tells us that he uttered his denunciations " with a mighty
spirit, voice, and action." He attended the Laird of
Grange in Edinburgh on the scaffold in 1574, in opposi-
tion to all the bishops of the land, and in 1581 he was in
20 RAMBLES IX SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
attendance on the Regent Morton at his execution. The
wily abbot is said to have died a martyr's death, and
because of the zeal he exhibited against the disciples of
John Knox he was canonized by the Church of Rome.
Janet Durie, who succeeded to the estate in 1554,
married Henry Kemp of Thomastoun, and Kemp took the
name of Durie. Janet's grandson, Robert Durie, parted
with the estate in 1614 to -Sir Alex. Gibson, who owned
the town of Leven, Innerleven, and adjoining properties.
Thus Sir Alexander's possessions became the barony of
Durie. Sir Alexander was one of the greatest lawyers of
his time. In 1627 he became a Lord of Session; in 1628
he was created a baronet, and in 1642 was raised to the
high office of Lord President of the Court of Session.
In his " Border Minstrelsy," Scott tells a curious story
of the kidnapping of the Lord President. The Earl of
Traquair, the Lord High Treasurer of the period, had a
lawsuit of some importance before the Court of Session.
He assumed that the presiding judge was unfavourable to
his side, and he employed Christie's Will, one of the
Border mosstroopers, to kidnap him while taking his
favourite ride on the sands of Leith. Will, it is said,
decoyed the President from the sands, seized him, and
carried him off to an old castle, the Tower of Graham, in
Annandale. Sir Alexander was " lifted " by his old friend
Will, after three months' confinement, muffled in the
cloak used for the abduction, and was set down on Leith
sands on the spot where he was taken from. Numerous
versions of the abduction are given ; but, strange to say,
the so-called " facts " of the writers are irreconcilable, and
there is a good deal to be said for the deductions of Mr
A. H. Miller, who, in "Fife: Pictorial and Historical,"
argues that if Sir Alexander Gibson ever was the victim
THE PARISH OF SCOONIE. 21
of a mosstrooper's abduction it must have been before he
was a Lord of Session, and certainly before he became
Laird of Durie, and thus the tradition dwindles down to
an "aggravated case of assault, robbery, and abduction."
The Lord President's eldest son was made Lord Clerk
Register in 1641, and a Senator of the College of Justice
in 1664. He was deprived of both offices by Cromwell in
1649. His grandson, Sir Alexander Gibson of Durie,
died without issue, and the eldest male line of the family
having thus become extinct, the title and estates devolved
upon the descendants of Sir John Gibson of Pentland, the
second son of Sir Alexander the famous President of the
Court of Session. Sir John Gibson was blind to the
follies of Charles I., and he accompanied Charles II. at
the battle of Worcester, where he lost a leg. Durie
remained in the hands of the Gibson family until 1785,
when the estate was purchased by James Christie, the
great-grandfather of Mr 11. Maitland Christie, the present
proprietor, who succeeded his father in 1896. He repre-
sents Scoonie in the County Council of Fife, and since the
'Seventies has taken a great interest in county matters.
The mansion-house of Durie is pleasantly situated. It was
built in 1762 by the father of the last Gibson of Durie.
Scoonie Kirk, 1905.
A CHAPTER IN SCOONIE KIRK HISTORY.
The Conflict of 1856-60-61.
WHAT in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland is known
as " The Scoonie Kirk Case " was fought out between
the beginning of 1859 and June 1861. The Rev. D. Brown
was called to Glasgow in January of the former year, and
when the vacancy took place, application was made to
Government, through the Earl of Rosslyn, for power to
the congregation to choose a minister. A letter was
received from the Home Secretary granting permission to
the "chief inhabitants" of the parish to select their future
THE PARISH OP SCOONIE. 23
minister, reserving a veto to the Crown over the selection.
A meeting of the male communicants of the congregation
was held within the church, when the document granting
permission to select a minister was in effect handed over ;
and it was resolved to appoint a committee, who were to
look out two suitable ministers. The names of the two
were to be submitted to the choice of the male communi-
cants, the one having the majority of votes to be recom-
mended to the Home Secretary to receive the presenta-
tion. By way of providing against discussion, it was also
agreed that the "minority were to give in to the majority."
The Committee, in entering upon their labours, had very
soon a long list of ministers before them. At the very
first meeting, without any application on his part, the
name of the Rev. James Black wood, assistant minister in
the neighbouring parish of Ceres, was placed on the list.
He had twice preached in the church during the previous
incumbency, and created a favourable impression. The
Committee went zealously to work, and after employing
upwards of two months in hearing, by deputations, various
ministers, and making enquiry as to others, a list of thirty-
three was reduced to four, Mr Blackwood being one of the
four. At this stage a petition was presented from about
120 members and adherents of the church, praying that
Mr Blackwood's name be retained as one of the two to be
submitted to the choice of the male communicants. A
deputation of four was sent to Ceres to hear Mr Black-
wood preach, two of whom reported favourably, two un-
favourably ; but a number of other members of committee
accompanied the deputation to Ceres, and all of them
reported favourably of Mr Blackwood. The committee
now resolved that they would invite all the four candi-
dates who were on the list to preach before the congre-
24: RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
gation. Three consented to do so. At a committee
meeting held afcer the three had been heard, a member
made a motion that Mr Blackwood's name be deleted
from the list, when eleven voted for and fourteen against
the motion ; whereupon, without further notice, ten of the
minority silently left the meeting. The majority of the
committee immediately called a meeting of the congrega-
tion, and laid a report of their proceedings before them.
Tue meeting unanimously agreed that the committee
proceed with their labours, and bring forward the two for
the choice of the congregation. The committee, after
again meeting twice, ultimately reduced the list to two.
when a meeting of the male communicants was held, at
which were present 210. Two hundred and six voted for
Mr Blackwood ; three for the other candidate one declin-
ing to vote the three, in terms of the original resolution,
giving in to the majority ; whereupon the chairman de-
clared the Rev. James Blackwood unanimously chosen.
The committee, in furtherance of the instructions of the
congregational meeting, immediately forwarded to the Earl
of Rosslyn a copy of the minute and sederunt of the meet-
ing, requesting his Lordship to lay the same before the
Home Secretary, the Committee expressing a hope that
Mr Blackwood would receive the presentation to the
vacant charge with all convenient speed.
The Earl of Ilosslyn, in acknowledging receipt, inti-
mated to the Committee that he had also received a
protest from the Kirk-Session and others against the
selection of Mr Blackwood. The committee and congre-
gation were astonished at the turn things had taken, and
immediately corresponded with his Lordship, requesting to
be furnished with a copy of the protest, and assuring his
Lordship that everything had been conducted in due form
THE PARISH OF SCOONIE. 25
and in proper order, and that the peace and welfare of the
congregation would be promoted by the appointment of
Mr Blackwood. His Lordship's reply intimated that "he
had handed all the papers in his possession, recom-
mendatory or otherwise o* the Rev. James Blackwood,
into the hands of the Home Secretary, and had declined
all recommendation of others, as his original recommenda-
tion that the congregation of Scoonie should select its own
minister precluded him from taking any other course."
An interview was next sought and obtained with the
Lord Advocate, nine members of committee forming the
deputation. The whole facts of the case were laid before
him. He requested to be furnished with the communion-
roll of the church, and the letter of the Home Secretary
granting the power to the congregation to choose their
minister : the first was complied with ; but on applying to
one of the party who had left the committee, in whose
possession the > Home Secretary's letter had from the first
remained, it was refused. From the authenticated copy
of the communion-roll, the total male communicants was
found to be 266. In addition to the 209 who voted for
Mr Blackwood, a supplementary list was afterwards ob-
tained of 25, which was also forwarded to the Lord
Advocate, of those who were unavoidably absent from the
meeting of the congregation, but who also approved of the
choice then made, making 234 in favour of Mr Blackwood.
There were 12 communicants absent from the parish ;
there were 1 1 known to have signed the protest against
Mr Blackwood's selection, thus accounting for all but nine
of the whole male communicants several of which nine,
from their residences being in distant parts of the parish,
made it impossible at the time to ascertain what their
views were. The Home Secretary was also communicated
26 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
with, and the whole information having reference to the
matter was laid before him. Testimonials in favour of Mr
Blackwood were forwarded from almost all the ministers
in the Presbytery of Cupar.
After much delay, the committee received a letter
from the Home Secretary, intimating that in consequence
of a number of the congregation, including the whole of
the Kirk-Session, being opposed to Mr Blackwood, he
would consider it to be his duty himself to appoint a
gentleman to the incumbency whose ministrations he
trusted would be acceptable to the entire congregation.
The committee immediately answered this letter, repre-
senting to him that deep injury to the congregation would
be the consequence of such a course. The committee also
corresponded with Mr Wemyss, the Member for the
County (who knew the whole facts of the case, from his
residence being in the neighbourhood), and received an
answer from him, that if Lord Derby's Government left
office without making the appointment, the presentation
would be given to Mr Blackwood. The committee at
this period applied to the Session to withdraw their opposi-
tion, and four of the five members stated in writing that
they would not oppose the settlement of Mr Blackwood,
should he receive the appointment. This document was
immediately forwarded to the Home Office : an answer
wiis received in course, however, stating that the living
had already been given to the Rev. Wm. Logie, minister
of the parish of Firth and Stenness, Orkney.
It was patronage which gave birth to the Relief Church
and which brought about the Disruption, and it was pat-
ronage which led to a little Disruption in the parish of
Scoonie. The announcement of the presentation by the
Crown to Mr Logie aroused a great amount of indignation in
THE PARISH OF SCOONIK. 27
the parish, and if his sermons were "cold and formal" when
he preached in July as presented, there was no want of
heat in the pews. An uncompromising opposition to Mr
Logie arose. In the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy Mr Logic's
claims to the parish were contested at every turn, and at
a time when it seemed as if nearly the whole parish was
fighting a few members of the kirk, the Presbytery agreed
to hear evidence for and against Mr Logie at Kirkcaldy.
Twenty-one witnesses who appeared for the objectors had
much the same story to tell. Mr Logic's preaching was
" cold and formal, without zeal and without animation,"
and his prayers were " without exalted thought and
animation." The proof for the objectors was closed on
22nd September, and the Presbytery did not again sit
until 6th October to hear the case for the objectors. A
good deal of rowdyism was indulged in for some nights
after Mr Logie was presented the windows of the houses
of some of his supporters being smashed in. During the
interval which elapsed between the hearing of the case for
the objectors and for the presentee, excitement once more
reached fever point. One night when Mr Logic's sup-
porters arrived from Kirkcaldy they were met by a crowd
at the railway station, and were hooted and pelted with
stones. After the proof, the Presbytery by a majority of
1 2 to 3 found against the objectors. The Synod by a
majority of 14 to 7 affirmed the decision of the Presbytery.
The case came before the Assembly in May 1860, and by
a majority of 159 to 85 the deliverances of the Presbytery
and Synod were reversed and the case of the objectors
upheld. In July 1860 the congregation met and recom-
mended that the Crown should present Mr Blackwood.
A call in favour of Mr Blackwood was read at the
October meeting of the Presbytery ; but here the sup-
L'S RAMBLES IN SCOONIE ~AKD WEYMSS.
porters of Mr Logie appeared and objected to Mr Black-
wood on the plea that his sermons were disfigured by
"slang phrases." Despite the fact that Mr Blackwood
received the presentation from the Crown, a second battle
arose, and was fought out before the Presbytery and the
Synod. In May 1861 it was stated in the Assembly that
there were 900 members and adherents for Mr Blackwood
and only 22 against, and the Assembly practically unani-
mously set aside the objections and ordained the Presby-
tery to proceed with the induction of Mr Blackwood.
The induction was lixed for 28th June. While the
Presbyterj was met in Scoonie Kirk vestry, the church
was taken possession of by a great congregation. The
objectors made a final effort at the Presbytery meeting to
prevent the induction of Mr Blackwood ; but every
objection was brushed aside and the two and a half years'
conflict ended in the induction of the man upon whom the
congregation had set their minds. It is upwards of 40
years since the exciting days of the Scoonie Case. With
the few who are still alive who took part in the conflict
the wounds of the struggle have long been healed.
During the battle a great many prints were issued by
the scribes of the times. Mr H. 13. Farnie, the author of
"The Fife Coast," issued "A Scoonie Ballad," which had
an enormous circulation. Here are a few sample verses
from Farnie :
Their minds recoiled from the bleak sea-shore,
And roved to the inland lea
Where Blackwood he passed a pleasant life
All under his own fig-tree.
" Oh, come to us from the bleak sea-shore,"
And, " Oh, come from the woodland scene,"
Thus spoke the twain and never again
Will be such a breeze, I ween !
THE PARISH OF SCOONIE.
So the Logie-ites they are the Bond,
And the Blackwood-ites the Free
At least, so runs the feeling, and
It's all the same to me.
Poor Mr Logie ! he weakened their faith,
His manner was cold and formal,
He wanted zeal, and he wanted soul,
And his sermons were quite abnormal.
Also, moreover, and added to that,
His voice it was not modulated,
And his sermons he read, an enormity which
His orthodox critics all hated.
THE BURGH OF LEVEN.
In the Olden Time.
I EVEN was one of the places on the East Coast which
*-* was not raised in early times to the dignity of a
Royal Burgh, and there is an entire absence of the
valuable Town Council records which are found in the
charter chests of Grail, Pittenweem, and Anstruther. Only
at intervals do we come across charters which give us a
peep at Leven in the olden time. Away back in the dim
and distant past Leven must have been a hamlet which
was dependent on the harvests of the Forth and the Leven
fora subsistence. In a charter dated 1546 it is designated
Levynnis-mouth. In that year Alexander Gow of the
Maw made a contribution toward the repairing of Culross
Abbey and the Monastery in Levynnis-ruouth. In the
" Scottish Family of Lander " we have a document which
is dated July 1609 referred to, and from which it appears
that the town and harbour of Leven then belonged to the
Archbishopric of St Andrews. Here is the description of
the document :
" The charter maid be vmq'e george, Archebishope of St androi's
to vmqle Mr george Lander of Bass, and his Airs, Off and haile
the landes of Scony, Monflowrie, Bambeith, thriepland, Leven,
porte and heavin of Levin, And of the toua and baronie of Levin,
customes and dewties belanging thairto, Mylnes, Mylnlandes,
Muttoris, and fischings Oft' the water of Levin, And off the vther
liberties, priuiledgis, and donatiounis mentionat in the said chartor,
and disponit to the said Mr george Lander and his aires heretablie.''
THK BURGH OP LEVEN. 31
Lauder of the Bass died in 1613, and in the following
year his property was acquired by Sir Alexander Gibson.
At that time the barony of Durie included only Meikle
and Little Balcurvie and Hauch, but when Sir Alexander
Gibson purchased the property oE the Lauders, the
boundaries of the barony were extended so that they
included Mountfleurie, Banbeath, Thriepland, the town of
Leven, Innerleveri, and Balgrummo. Subsequent pur-
chases of smaller estates led to Coldstream, Sillerhole,
Myresides, Balstressies, and Duniface being also included
in the barony of Durie.
It may be interesting to state that David I., the
youngest son of Malcolm Canmore, was the first ruler
to draw up laws founded on the usages of towns and
villages in England and Scotland. During his reign
each burgh secured the legal right of self-government
the election of magistrates being placed in the hands of
the burgesses. The powers of the magistrates ranged
from whipping to hanging, and the burgh had a complete
monopoly of the trade of a district. The burgesses of a
Royal Burgh, for instance, may have been conceded a
monopoly of the trade of West Fife, and none but bur-
gesses could buy or sell or manufacture within the pre-
scribed area. The abbots and the barons soon began to
get envious of the power of Royal Burghs, and the abbots
and great lords combined and had the villages which
sprung up near the cathedrals and abbeys erected into
burghs. They were designated Burghs of Regality. The
barons followed up the action of the abbots and had the
villages near their castles erected into burghs. These
burghs were called Burghs of Barony. Servants were
the slaves of their masters in these times. If a stray
bondsman happened to be found without a master, he
32 RAMBLES IX SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
was allowed fifteen days to find an engagement. At
the Abbey of Dunfermline, for instance, a register was
kept containing the pedigrees of slaves on the estate, with
their marriages, names of the persons whom daughters
had married, and the tax paid by bondsmen when they
gave their daughters in marriage, and so deprived the
abbey of their service.
The Harbour and Dock.
In the olden time the farmers of customs in Scotland
were called Custuraars. As far back as 1435 there is an
Exchequer entry by the custumars of the Burgh of Lin-
lithgow for twelve shillings, being the freight of a boat
containing twenty carcases of salted oxen out of the
king's larder at Stirling from the harbour of Blackness to
the Water of Leven. The carcases had been sent by order
of the king, and it is quite within the bounds of proba-
bility that they were sent to Leven, being the nearest
port to Falkland. A boat containing as many as twenty
carcases of oxen must have been a craft of considerable
size, and leads one to the inference that in 1435 there
must have been a small harbour at Levenmouth, and such
a number of residents as were able to carry on a little
shipping trade. No other notice of Leven is found until
1540, when we have the following item in the accounts of
the Lord High Treasurer :
" Item, given to Maister Andro Quhytelaw for fraught of ane
Bote, furth of Leith to Levynnis-mouth with the Selver Wark,
and for carriage thairof to Saintandrois at the Baptzme of my Loi'd
Prince, iiij li."
In 1565, Henry Durie of that Ilk was appointed by
the Crown "Keeper of the harbour of Lavynns-mouth "
and the coast in order to stop the enemies of the King
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 33
Tn 1602, " Levnis-mouth " ranked with the harbours of
Elie, Sanctmonanis, Westir Wemyss, and Queensferry.
At a meeting of the Privy Council, held at Dunfermline
in that year, it was reported that smuggling of contraband
goods from the Continent was being carried on to an
enormous extent at many ports in Scotland, and an ordin-
ance was passed prohibiting owners and masters of vessels
at many ports on both sides of the Forth from shipping
or unshipping goods of any kind (coals and salt excepted).
Levens-mouth was one of the prohibited ports.
In 1699, there was a barque in Leven called the
" Isobell," and in November of that year John Lamont
of Newton sold to John Arnot of Balcormo a fourth-part
of the ship. On Lamont discharging Arnot for the price,
Arnot became bound by a deed, dated at St Andrews,
27th November 1700, to deliver to the former "fortie
pyncs and ane mutchkin of good and sufficient French
In the " Old Statistical Account," which was published
in 1791, the Rev. David Swan, the minister of the parish
of Scoonie, tells us that " there were six trading vessels of
from 90 to 140 or 150 tons belonging to the port, em-
ployed mostly in the Holland and East Sea trade." The
minister of the parish seems to have been better up in his
Bible than in harbour work, for he concludes his notes on
the " village " with a remark to the effect that the head of
the river affords ''a safe and commodious harbour." The
harbour was safe enough, but it cannot have been very
commodious. Somewhere about 1821 a small quay was
constructed ; the fairway was improved by removing
boulders, mooring poles or buoys stationed, and the
channel piled to guard against sand choke. In a com-
paratively few years the quay was spoken of as "alto-
34 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
gether insufficient for the increasing trade of the port."
In 1835, Leven had two brigs, carrying 374 tons, which
were chiefly employed in the American trade. There
were also five sloops of 188 tons, which were principally
engaged in the coasting trade. In 1835 as many as
fifteen fairly large vessels arrived in the harbour with
cargoes, and in the same year 222 small coasteis were
unloaded at the inouth of the Leven. A detailed note of
the imports and exports for 1835 has happily been pre
served by the Rev. George Brewster. The details are
interesting, inasmuch as they give us a glimpse at the
kind of traffic which was done at Leven about seventy
years ago. Here are Mr Brewster's details :
Ashes, 556 barrels - - - 4,170
Bones, 232 tons - - 951
Wheat, 205 qrs. ... 410
Barley, 905 qrs. - - 1,244
Malt, 266 qrs. 638
Coals, 566 tons 250
Hemp - - 7,942
Herrings, 272 tons 272
Pigiron, 400 tons - 2,200
Rape cake, 40 tons - 220
Stones, 1322 tons .... - 220
Slates, 105 tons 330
Timber, 6513 tons 6,513
Bone dust, 500 tons - - 3,1 KM I
Bricks and tiles - SO
Linen cloth, !)00 bales - ... 18,000
Castiron, 215 tons ------ 2,580
1'i^iron, 30 tons - - - - ISO
Ochre, 191 tons 573
Oats, (10 qrs. 60
Potatoes, 2084 bolls - - - - 780
\Yhiskv, .'57l> puncheons - - - 15, 040
Yarn, 440 tons - 20,240
THE BURGH OF LEVEX.
Mr Brewster says that at spring tides in 1835 the
harbour admitted " vessels of 300 tons burden, but it is
rather difficult of access owing to the banks of sand,
which are frequently shifting by heavy sea storms or
floods in the river." By 1876 there was a prospect that
history would repeat itself in the district so far as the
coal trade was concerned, and the Leven Harbour Com-
pany was formed for the purpose of getting rid of the
" banks of sand " complained of by Mr Brewster, and con-
structing a dock at the mouth <*f the Leven.
Dixton <fc Son]
Leven Harbour and Dubbieside Links in 1855.
The Company expended between 38,000 and 40,000,
and in November 1879 the "Dahlia," a vessel chartered
with coals from Newcastle-on-Tyne, for Mr C. Adamson,
now Provost Adamson, entered the Leven dock. At the
same time coal had been struck in the Leven pits by the
Fife Coal Company, and among a section of the community
there was the feeling that as a shipping port Leven was
36 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
destined to become a place of considerable importance.
The following table shows the coals shipped from 1880
to 1887 :
1880 19,207 1884 - 42,998
1881 - 31,028 1885 - 41,117
1882 - 30,229 1886 - 43,493
1883 - - 34,116 1887 19,593
The shifting banks of sand which gave trouble to the
captains of the small coasters in Mr Brewster's time were
as troublesome after the dock was opened as before, and
on the Methil dock scheme being launched by Mr Wemyss
of Wemyss Castle in 1883, the Leven Harbour Company
parted with the property, which had cost nearly 40,000,
for some 12,000, a sum which only enabled the Com-
pany to meet a debt which had been incurred in connec-
tion with recent works. The following is a paragraph in
the " Order of the sale and transfer " of the dock to Mr
Wemyss : " Henceforth the undertaking shall be main-
tained, repaired, and kept in proper condition, fit for use
for all purposes for which the same is capable of being
used at the time of the passing of the Act confirming the
Order, and all duties and obligations in reference to the
undertaking imposed on the Company by the Act of 1876
or the Order of 1881 shall be performed and observed by
the said R. G. E. Wemyss, his heirs, assignees, or succes-
sors, owners for the time being of the undertaking, at his
or their own expense." In three shore years the value of
an undertaking which had cost from 38,000 to 10,000
had fallen to 12,000, and within seven years patronage
had begun to be drawn from the dock. In the course of
time Methil dock was acquired by the North British
Railway Company, and Leven dock went as part of the
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 37
Leven dock was soon entirely dropped out of the view
of the coal exporter, the loading tips were abandoned, and
from 1900 to 1904 the gates stood at the " Levynns
mouth " silted up and immovable, presenting all the
appearance of the hulk of one of the old coasters which
visited the port four or five times a year when the Rev.
David Swan laboured in the parish. Old men hied them-
selves to the dock now and again and spoke of other days.
They looked sorrowfully on the fishing boats which lay
wintering in the harbour, puffed their pipes and peeped
through their binoculars at the steamers which were
steaming up the Forth for Methil and Burntisland, and
which, under different circumstances, might have been
making for the port of Leven. As the steamers passed
the old men thought of the many " might have beens "
which appear and disappear in life's journey, and they
compared the passing of the shipping trade of Leven to
the passing of the handloom. In 1903, while the old men
were sighing over the prospect of Leven being blotted out
as a shipping port, the Kirkcaldy District Committee of
Fife County Council, acting on pressure from the people
of Leven, raised an action against the North British
Railway Company in Cupar Sheriff Court on the plea that
the dock was in an insanitary state. The Sheriff-Substi-
tute and the Sheriff-Principal found that the Committee
had made out a good case, and asked the Railway Com-
pany to carry out an improvement scheme. The im-
provements were not gone on with, and the Kirkcaldy
District Committee took the matter in their own hands
in the autumn of 1904, and employed Messrs Sang &
Lockhart, engineers, Kirkcaldy, to report upon the work.
The engineers framed a scheme of improvement which in-
cluded the erection of a cofferdam in front of the silted up
38 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
gate, the removal of mud at the entrance, and the thorough
overhauling of the caisson. The Railway Company, while
all this was going on, did not attempt to obtemper the
Sheriffs decision, and the District Committee placed the
work in the hands of Messrs J. & J. Farmer and Messrs
Buchan & Duncan, Methil. The Company kicked, both
on Leven pier and in the Court of Session, against the
forward policy of the District Committee ; but in tho
Court of Session the Company got beaten for their pains,
and the defeat in Parliament House ended the obstruction
on Leven pierhead. The contractors erected a cofferdam
and repaired the dilapidated caisson, and in March 1905
the gate was in working condition. The North British
Railway Company followed up the work of the contractors
by dredging the dock, and for the present at least Leven
retains the description which in guide books has been
applied to it from time immemorial nauiely, " a shipping
port at the mouth of the Leven."
The Formation of a Police Burgh.
The Rev. David Swan gives us the following glimpse
of Leven of 1790: "The only village in the parish is
Leven, which belongs to the barony of Durie. ... It
contains 335 families and 1169 inhabitants. The rents
of houses are from 10s to <S sterling." Writing 46 years
afterwards, the Rev. Dr Brewster says : " The only town
in the parish is Leven, with a population of above 2000.
It consists of two principal streets running parallel to
each other, with a variety of bye-lanes. Weaving of linen
is the staple industry of the place, and affords steady em-
ployment to the inhabitants. A board of police, according
to the Act of Parliament, has been established here for
some years, and its labours are chiefly directed to the
THE BURGH OP LEVEN.
cleaning and lighting of the streets and supplying the
town with water." Acting on the advice of the late Mr
Andrew Wilkie, banker, the inhabitants adopted the
The First Chief /lagistrate.
General Police Act in 1867. Mr Wilkie was the first
chief magistrate of the Police Burgh, and he had associ-
ated with him another eight commissioners. He held office
for eleven years. He was succeeded by Mr James Ander-
son of Norton, who was also at the head of affairs for eleven
years. Mr Alexander Inglis, who held office for one year,
followed ; Mr John White fulfilled the duties for fourteen
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
years, and the present Provost, Mr Christopher Adamson,
was elected in 1903. Mr A. C. Dewar was elected Town
Clerk of the burgh in 1890, and continues to hold office.
The following table shows the years for which the respec-
tive chief magistrates held office :
Alexander Inglis -
John White -
April 1869 to April 1878
April 1878 to Nov. 1888
Nov. 1888 to Nov. 1889
Nov. 1889 to Nov. 1903
/Appointed Nov. 1903 and
\ continues in office (1905)
The present Provost.
THE BURGH OF LEVEX.
In 1755 Leven had a population of 1100 souls, and
hero is a table showing the population for each decade
since 1841 :
In 1860, Farnie, the writer of the "Handbook of the Fife
Coast," predicted great things for Leven. He says :
" Perhaps no other town possesses in so great degree the
elements of future prosperity. For we shall soon find the
manufacture and trade of the Leven district are very con-
siderable ; while, on the other hand, its situation is not to
be surpassed for a watering place." Farnie's predictions
as to manufactures have scarcely been realised, and Lundin
Links has come into severe competition with Leven as a
Leven Cross and the Burgh Arms.
The cross, which stands on a site within the grounds
of the Greig Institute, bears the following inscription :
Formerly on Carpenter's Brae ; removed 1767 ; restore*! and re-
erected by James Anderson of Norton 1889."
The cross takes the form of a sundial. The dial-making
42 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
period commenced in 1623, and the Leven cross was un-
doubtedly erected at the top of Carpenter's Brae between
that year and the year 1700. There is no authentic notice
of the cross to be found, however, until 1767. Durie
House was burned down in 1762, and the proprietor, John
Gibson, took up his abode in a house in High Street.
Durie died in 1767, and the cross was found to be such an
obstruction to the funeral procession that the authorities
of the old burgh of barony ordered its removal. The cross
of Leven then drops out of sight, and is not again heard of
until 1889. One day, in the autumn of that year, when
some masons were engaged in the work of taking down a
wall at the entrance to a house near the Greig Institute,
they came upon some marked stories. The stones found
were pronounced to be part of the seventeenth century
structure which stood at the top of the Carpenter's Brae.
Mr James Anderson, who had a great love for the Leven
of other days, was amongst the residents who examined
the find, and he at once placed the work of restoring the
cross in the hands of Messrs Andrew &, A. C. Dewar,
architects. Messrs Dewar consulted Mr Thomas Ross,
Edinburgh, the well-known authority on antiquarian sub-
jects, and he produced a sketch of a dial which stood at
Kelburn, Ayrshire, which seemed to resemble the Leven
obelisk cross. The work of reconstruction on the Kelburn
model was accordingly proceeded with, and in May 1889
the cross was unveiled with some ceremony. A use was
made of the cross in the design of the burgh arms. The
galley in chief of the arms reminds one of the maritime
nature of the town, and recalls the fact that from time
immemorial Leven has been a seaport town. The object
in the base of the arms is a representation of the cross.
The late Marquis of Bute, in his "Arms of the Baronial
THE BURGH OF LEVEN. 43
and Police Burghs of Scotland," writes of the cross as a
" monument," and says that although it may have been
an adaptation of, or substitute for, an original cross, it is
now a sundial of the same class as those found at Drum-
mond Castle and elsewhere in Scotland.
The members of several Praying Societies in Leven,
Dubbieside, and district met in the spring of 1738 in
conference in the hope of devising a scheme through which
they might combine and do more effective work. In May
of the same year the societies resolved to cast in their lot
with the Associate Presbytery, and they attached them-
selves to the Dissenting Church at Abbotshall, and ulti-
mately joined the Dissenters at Ceres. It is interesting
to keep in mind that the combined meeting was held at
Leven or Dubbieside just four and a half short years after
the ''Four Brethren," headed by Ebenezer Erskine, met
at Gairney Bridge and constituted themselves a Presbytery
apart from the judicatories of the Established Church ;
two years before Ralph Erskine formally united himself
to the four Dissenting ministers, and five years before
Ralph Erskine and seven other ministers were deposed
by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
While protesting against patronage and other vagaries in
the Established Church, the Dissenters of the parish of
Scoonie did not comport themselves in such a manner as
to indicate that wisdom would die with them. The Rev.
David Swan, the minister of the Kirk of Scoonie, writing
in 1790 of the Dissenters of Scoonie, says :
" Such as separate from the ^Established Church have little of
that reserve or moroseness which is the general characteristic of
separatists of almost all denominations."
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
ST JOHN S UNITED FREE CHURCH.
The Dissenters of Leven and Dubbieside met for a
good many years at Kirkcaldy and Ceres, and ultimately
at Dubbieside ; but early in the nineteenth century a
feeling seems to have arisen that an effort might be made
to open a Dissenting church in Leven. A question was
raised as to whether an Associate or a Relief Church
should be opened, and opinion seems to have favoured the
Relief. So in 1830, seventy -eight years after Thomas
Gillespie was driven from the Established Church over a
question of patronage at Inverkeithing, and founded the
THE BURG II OF LEVEN. 45
Relief Church, we find the Dissenters of Leven meeting
with the Relief ministers of Kettle and Dysarfc and re-
solving to rent the Gardeners' Hall as a temporary place
of worship. Services were opened in September 1830, and
in March 1831 a petition was presented by 202 people to
the Presbytery of Dysart asking regular supply of sermon.
The following is a copy of the petition :
Leven, 22nd February 1831.
To the Rev. the Relief Presbyter\ r , Dysart, to meet at Auchter-
muchty, on Thursday, the eighth day of March 1831.
The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of the town
of Leven and its vicinity
That in consequence of the state of the popula-
tion as compared with that of the church accommodation and other
causes, which your petitioners need not enumerate, there has for a
considerable period been a prevalent wish for the formation of a
new congregation on Presbyterian principles in the town of Leven.
Your petitioners have much pleasure in further stating that, in
obedience to this prevailing wish, they have been favoured with
the personal services of several members of your revd. Courts, who
have preached in Leven and conversed with your petitioners from
time to time, with the services of probationers belonging to the
Relief body. Your petitioners further beg to state that, approving
of the distinguishing principles of the Relief as a Presbyterian
Dissenting body, and encouraged by those members of your revd.
Courts with whom they have conversed, and whose services they
have enjoyed, they are desirous of being received under the in-
spection and superintendence of your revd. Presbytery as a forming
congregation in connection witli the Relief body. Your petitioners
may also further state that they are provided at present with a
large and convenient place for public worship and other accommo-
dation which may be necessary in the event of their petition being
granted. They have likewise appointed Messrs Peter Keddie and
A. Ballingall as commissioners to lay this petition before your revd.
Court, and to give all proper information respecting their present
circumstances and future prospects.
46 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
May it therefore please your revd. Court to take this petition
into your serious consideration, and your petitioners will ever
Then follow 202 signatures, the name of Alex. Ballingall,
the preses, taking precedence. In terms of the petition,
regular supply of sermon was granted, and in 1831-2 a
Church was built in Viewforth Square, at the back of the
old salt works. Sittings were provided for as many as
650 worshippers. Having had the church in Viewforth
Square opened, and all the organisations of a well-appointed
church set in motion, the members of the Relief Church
met in July 1833 and asked the Presbytery for power to
call a minister. The names of four ministers were sub-
mitted. Some little division was experienced over the
choice, but there was a clear majority all through for the
Rev. James Vallance, of Paisley, and he was ordained to
the pastorate of the church on 19th February 1834. The
stipend was .90 a year, and the salary attached to the
precentorship was '2. Within eleven years of his being
ordained to the Dissenting charge of Leven, Mr Vallance
went over to the Established Church, and became minister
of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire.
Human nature was very much in 1845 when Mr Val-
lance resigned what it is to-day. The minority who were
opposed to his being brought from Paisley to the " King-
dom " claimed the turn things had taken as a complete
vindication of their position. Happily any feeling which
existed was soon got over, however, and all sections of the
congregation agreed to try to make a call to the second
minister of the Relief Church a unanimous one. Early in
the autumn of 1846 a call was given to the Rev. John
Mitchell, of St Ninians. Mr Mitchell was under call at
the same time to Annan, but he accepted Leven, and
THE BUHGH OF LEVEN.
was ordained ou 8th September 1846. The union of the
Secession and the Relief Churches was then being dis-
cussed throughout the country, and it is interesting to
note that at the first meeting of the Session over which
Mr Mitchell presided the "Basis of Union " was discussed
and unanimously assented to. At the first meeting of the
Session held after the Union (which took place in 1847)
they "agreed to record their joy at that event, and to
implore the Divine blessing on the deed of these two de-
nominations, and the assistance of the spirit of wisdom
and peace in all their future deliberations."
Mr Mitchell went to Kirkintilloch on April 1854, and
he was succeeded by the Rev. John S. Hyslop, from Urr,
who was ordained to the charge on 26th June 1855. After
a long, honoured, and fruitful ministry, Mr Hyslop retired
from active duty on 17th May 1887. A memorial window
in the Church bears the following inscription :
" Erected in loving memory of the Rev. John S. Hyslop by the
members of this congregation, who desire to acknowledge his long
and faithful services in the Christian ministry."
The Rev. John Reid came next ; and then followed
the Rev. Adam Shaw, who was ordained on 27th January
1889. In less than four years Mr Shaw accepted a call to
Glasgow, and on 13th April 1893 the Rev. W. J. Patter-
son, the present pastor, was ordained to the charge. Mr
Patterson was educated in Edinburgh, and on leaving the
Hall took up duty as an assistant in the city of Perth.
The congregation at the end of 1904 numbered 355. At
the union witli the Free Church in 1900, the congregation
took the name of St John's, so that the name of the Rev.
John Hyslop, who was instrumental in raising a consider-
able portion of the funds required in connection with the
church of 1870, might be kept green amongst them.
48 RAMBLES IN 8COONIE AND WEMYSS.
THE FOBMAN UNITED FREE CHURCH.
This church was one of those which came into existence
in connection with the Disruption of 1843. The Rev.
George Brewster, the minister of Scoonie Kirk, inclined
to the ideas of the Moderates rather than to the policy of
Dr Chalmers, and he remained in the Establishment. The
majority of the Session, including the Laird of Duric (Mr
C. M. Christie), quitted the church, however, and they had
with them a large following. A site for a church was
granted by the Laird of Durie, and such was the amount
of enthusiasm shown that by December 1843 the building,
which has since been transformed and utilised as the Town
Hall, was opened. In January 1844 the Rev. Adam
Forman was called from Innerwick. Mr Forman was one
of the ministers who left the Establishment, and who,
lecause he could not find shelter in his old parish, was
compelled to move to the neighbouring town of Dunbar.
He preached on the " face of a brae " near Innerwick for
some months to a numerous flock, and as the cold weather
came on was driven to a wooden erection. It was while
conducting services in the wooden building on the "brae
side " of Innerwick that he received a call to Leven. He
accepted the call, and toiled long and faithfully in the
parish. His biographer tells us that he laboured " among
high and low, among rich and poor, with unceasing earnest-
ness." He made Home Mission work a special feature,
and under his ministry the " Salt Girnel " of Methil was
fitted up as a place of meeting. The Rev. P. MacAinsh
was one of the missionaries who laboured under Mr Forman
at Methil. Mr Forman died in 1865. A marble tablet
erected in the church bears the following inscription :
"In memory of the Rev. Adam Forman, M.A., minister of
Innerwick from 1824 to 1843, and of the Free Church, Leven, from
THE BURGH OP LEVKtf. 49
1844 to March 29th, 1865, when he was suddenly taken to his rest,
in the 71st year of his age. His high talents and strong affections,
sanctified and regulated by divine grace, were finely developed,
both in his public and private ministrations, while his profound
humility, Christian manliness, and generous sympathy won for
him the esteem and reverence of his flock and of all who knew
Mayor] Forman U. F. Church. [Leuen
As a tribute to his memory, the congregation at the
Union named the church the Foruian United Free Church.
Since the Union, the surviving members of his family have
presented a baptismal font to the congregation in memory
50 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of their mother. Mr Forman was succeeded by the Rev.
Donald Fergusson, who came from the pretty village of
Doune. He had not been a year in Leven when the
cholera scourge of 1866 broke out. Mr Fergusson was
unsparing in his labours among the sick and the dying in
Leven and neighbourhood, and by the older residents of
the parish and district his work is spoken of to this day
in language which impresses one with the feeling that he
must have been as gentle among the sufferers as the
" nurse who cherisheth her own children."
Mr Fergusson maintained the traditions of the church
for Home Mission work, and it was principally through
his exertions that the Free Church in Buckhaven, now St
Andrew's TJnited Free Church, was opened. Indifferent
health compelled Mr Fergusson to retire from active duty
in 1881, and a colleague and successor was called in the
person of the Rev. J. J. Mackay, who was very zealous
and successful in evangelistic and temperance work. Mr
Mackay was translated to Glasgow in 1884, and he was
succeeded by the Rev. Hugh Y. Reyburn. Mr Reyburn
laboured without stint and without ceasing in Mcthil, and
during his incumbency a separate congregation was formed
in the now famous East Coast coal shipping port, with the
Rev. Robert Francis at its head. The history of the Buck-
haven (St Andrew's) and Methil churches gives the Leven
Forman Church a title to the name of a " mother of
churches." Mr Reyburn went to Kirkintilloch in 1893,
and the Rev. Hugh Elder was then called. Mr Fergusson
died in 1897. Mr Elder has been a strong advocate of
the Union all through, and so loyally was he supported by
the office-bearers and the congregation that the Forman
Church was at an early stage removed from the list of
churches claimed by the Free Church officials.
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 51
The church erected in 1843 cost 766 13s 5d, and pro-
vided sittings for 750 people. As many as 500 sittings
were let the week before the church was opened. In the
closing days of the fifties a movement was set on foot for
a new church, and in 1861 the present building in Durie
Street was opened, the cost being 3242 18s 6d. In 1900
the building was renovated at a cost of 572 13s 5d. The
congregation is happy in having a splendid hall for Sunday
school and other work. The building was erected by the
late Mr David Bain, and was fitted and furnished by the
congregation at a combined cost of nearly 11 00.
s. MARGARET'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
S. Margaret's Church, which is dedicated to the saintly
Queen of Scotland, had its origin in missionary work
which was taken up at Lundin Links. The work was
commenced on 12th March 1861. In December 1862 it
was agreed to make Leven the headquarters of the mission,
and on Christmas day of that year the work was taken up
in the Gardeners' Hall, Murray Place. The work flourished
to such an extent that ultimately the Rev. W. Prosser was
appointed Rector. Mr Prosser laboured in the district
until May 1870, and then came the Rev. W. E. Hall,
whose first work in Leven was the Christmas service of
1870, and who remained in the district until 1876. The
mission was erected into an incumbency, with Mr Hall as
incumbent, on September 15th 1872. Mr Hall was suc-
ceeded by the Rev. J. Thomson, who took up work on
March llth, 1877, and who held the post until September
S. Margaret's Church was erected during Mr Thom-
son's incumbency. The church, which was a handsome
addition to the ecclesiastical architecture of the burgh,
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
was consecrated by Bishop Wordsworth in August 1881.
The building, which was erected from plans prepared by
Messrs Matthews ct Mackenzie, Aberdeen, cost 1700.
This total does not include the belfry-tower, which was a
gift of Sir Henry Gibson Carmichael of Skirling. Sir
Henry wrote to the Vestry recalling the feeling of affection
which his late father had had for the " home of his child-
hood, Durie." "Wishing that " the family connections with
S. Margaret's Episcopal Church.
the parish of Scoonie should not bo forgotten," Sir Henry
asked that he should be allowed to erect a belfry-tower to
the church, "as a memorial of his ancestors, the Gibsons
of Durie." He suggested that the tower might be called
" The Gibson-Carmichael Tower." The offer was accepted,
the tower was built, and for all time coming it will be
known as the " Gibson-Carmichael Tower of S. Margaret's
THE BURGH OF LEVEN. 53
Church." The Rev. A. Thomson Grant succeeded Mr
Thomson in September 1886. Mr Grant is well known
throughout Scotland as an authority on antiquarian sub-
jects, and before long we hope to see him give the results
of his bibliographical studies to the reading public. Mr Grant
went to Wemyss Castle in 1900, and was succeeded by the
present incumbent, the Rev. James W. Harper. Mr
Harper is a native of Aberdeen. He graduated M.A.
with honours at the University of the Granite City. A
rector}' and a church-room have been erected since the
church was opened, and all the buildings are nicely
Some of the stones used in building the church came
from Burntisland. The Rev. George Hay Forbes, a son
of Lord Medwyn, and a brother of Bishop Forbes, of
Brechin, for many years incumbent of the Episcopalian
Church at Burntisland, began to build a church at his own
expense. He could only allow a certain sum annually
towards the cost of the fabric, and at his death in 1875
the walls were only a few feet high. But a baptistry had
been completed in which he celebrated holy communion.
A friend informs the writer that on a visit paid to Mr
Forbes forby years ago, one mason and a labourer were
employed on the fabric, and the latter acted as coachman
when Mr Forbes took a drive. It would have taken half
a century to finish the church. After Mr Forbes' death,
the North British Railway Company, requiring more-
ground, bought the rood on which the church was building,
and the congregation at Leven secured the stories for S.
Margaret's Clmreh. Mr Forbes was one of the most
learned men in the Episcopal Church, and had a printing
press (the Pitsligo Press), from which he issued a number
of learned works.
54 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
Leven Baptist congregation was formed in 1893. The
Rev. Alexander Pigott was the first pastor, and it was
chiefly through his exertions that the iron church was
erected in Forth Street. He laboured in Leven until
1900, when he was transferred to the city of Dundee. Mr
Pigott is a great lover of books of historical interest, and
has rendered a distinct service to the county. He has a
splendid collection of Fife books, and we hope to see the
day when some bibliographist will acquire by purchase
his collection bearing on Fife and hand the works over
to some library in the "Kingdom." On 31st March 1901
the Rev. John Dickie was ordained to the Leven charge.
Mr Dickie is a native of Kelso, and studied in London.
The building in which the congregation numbering about
200 worships is a temporary one, being constructed of
iron, and the congregation look forward to the day when
they will be able to face the cost of a permanent
The Qreig Institute.
The Greig Institute, which stands in the centre of a
plot of ground off Forth Street, was formally opened on
14th July 1874. The history of the Institute is easily told.
In 1871 the old United Presbyterian Church, which was in
Viewforth Square, came into the market, and at a meeting
of several public - spirited gentlemen, including Messrs
Andrew Wilkie, D. Nicoll, James Anderson, J. H. Smith,
and Dr Lyall, it was agreed to acquire the building and to
set it aside for the public as a "People's Institute." Mr
Thomas Greig of Glencarse, Perthshire, who was a son of
Mr Thomas Greig, of Leven, whose remains lie in Scoonie
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 55
cemetery, was among the gentlemen approached for a sub-
scription towards the purchase price and the cost of recon-
structing the old church as an Institute. Mr Greig was
enamoured with the idea of providing a building for re-
creation and educative purposes. He thought, however,
that the gentlemen at the head of the movement might do
better than to fit up the old church. He had two gardens
in Leven, and if the committee cared he would hand over
the ground as a gift to the community, and would contri-
bute 500 towards the cost of a new building. The idea
was taken up with great heartiness, the old church was
resold, and the building, which is known as the Greig
Institute, erected at a cost of 2000. The following
inscription, which is above the main entrance to the
building, gives the history of the movement in a nut-
" The Greig Institute, Leven. Foundation stone laid on 18th
July 1872, by Thomas Greig, Esq. Institute formally opened on
14th July 1874. Cost of building 2000. Architect, Andrew
Heiton, of Perth. Principal promoters Thomas Greig, Esq. of
Gleiicarse, 1000 and the site ; Captain Christie of Durie, 225 ;
Alex. Balfour of Mount Alyn, Cheshire, 350, of which 100 was
applied to the library.
In the reading-room there is an excellent painting in
oil of Mr Greig, who was born in 1801 and died in 1884.
The Institute has been a blessing to the burgh of Leven.
The community is partly industrial, and for years at least
one room of the Institute has been utilised for technical
education classes, with results which have been extremely
satisfactory. The Rev. George Brewster, writing in 1836,
tells us that a subscription library, with about 650 volumes
in circulation, had been in operation for many years, while
there was a juvenile collection of books connected with the
56 RAMBLES IN SCOON1E AND WKMYSS.
Sunday School. There was also a Mechanics' Institution,
with a respectable library belonging to it. The books
have been brought together in the Greig Institute, and in
the building the people of Leven have now a library of
which they are justly proud. Through the kindness of
Mr James Coates, jun., of Paisley, many new volumes
were added to the library in the spring of 1905.
The Banks and some other Buildings.
There are branches of the Royal, the National, the
Commercial, and the British Linen Banks in Leven, the
businesses being conducted in spacious buildings. Within
the past half century great changes have been made in the
shops, externally and internally. Artists and antiquarians
who delight in red roofs and crow-stepped gables may sigh
over the disappearance of old architectural links with the
past, but most people will be inclined to think that the
shops and the dwellings of the modern street are more com-
fortable for doing business in or for residing in than the
low-roofed structures of the olden time. There are three
hotels in the burgh namely the Caledonian in High
Street and Mitchell Street, the Star in North Street, and
the Station Temperance at the railway station. There are
some delightful villas on the links. One of the oldest and
certainly one of the most interesting pieces of old Leven
which is to clay intact, and which is the delight of anti-
quarian visitors, is undoubtedly the property in High
Street which belongs to the representatives of the late Mi-
Thomas Porter, and which is occupied by Mr Gourlay,
bookseller. With its red roof and its crown-stepped gables
the property makes a picturesque corner. In the days
when Leven was a small village it was a striking building;
it remains a quaint piece of architecture still.
THE BURGH OP LEVKN. 57
The Bridging of the Leven.
In 1790 there was no bridge across the Leven nearer
than Cameron, quite two miles up the water, and the Rev.
David Swan, writing in that year under the heading
" Disadvantages," thus points out the inconveniences ex-
"It is a considerable inconvenience to this parish that there is
no bridge upon the Leven nearer than Cameron. But there are
two good fords in the neighbourhood, always passable except in
high floods, or for an hour or two at high water during springtides,
and near the town there is also a coble or boat for passengers. It
is likewise a very great inconvenience, not only to the parish but
to travellers in general, that there is no bridge over Scoonie river
upon the great turnpike road to the east coast. The water is often
engorged with such banks of ice upon each side that there is no
passage for carriages, but with manifest danger. Though in sum-
mer it is almost dry, yet the water sometimes rises to such a height
as not to be fordable with safety. Some years ago a farmer and his
wife attempting to cross on horseback were carried a considerable
way down the stream ; the woman not less than 400 or 500 yards.
Had they not been seen and opportunely seized by the people in
the neighbourhood, both of them must inevitably have perished.
It is to be hoped, for the credit of the gentlemen of the district,
that this inconveniency will soon be remedied."
Despite the dangers of a roaring river in spates, and
the " inconveniency,'' as Mr Swan puts it, to the general
public, the "gentlemen of the district" did not see fit to
take the hint to connect the parishes of Scoonie and
Wernyss by a bridge, and the eighteenth century was
allowed to pass into history to leave the people with no
other alternative but to wade through the ford where the
sawmills now stand, cross at Dubbieside ferry, or hie them-
selves to the Bassmill Bridge at Cameron, a structure
which was erected by Earl David of Wemyss in 1665 "for
the greater sale of his Methil coal." The ferry belonged
to the Durie family, and was for many years farmed out
58 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
to a boatman for a yearly rental. Passengers were taken
across the river in a coble from Dossie Bay to Dubbieside
for one halfpenny one penny return. The Kirkcaldy road
was in a wretched condition, and at each side of the river
at the ford horses and vehicles and cattle often stood in
great numbers waiting until the tide had ebbed sufficiently
to admit of a passage. In spates the fording of the river
was extremely dangerous, and the mail coaches went daily
to Kirkcaldy by Windygates. In 1821, a joint stock
company leased the ferry from Durie and erected a suspen-
sion bridge across the river, from Dossie Bay to Dubbie-
side, for foot passengers. The bridge cost .500, and
the capital was raised in shares of 10s 6d each. On the
opening of the structure the ferryman, Davie Finlay, and
his coble were dispensed with, and the Company paid a
dividend on the capital expenditure by exacting a modest
halfpenny from each person who crossed. The pontage in
1835 was .85. The foot bridge was of no use for
vehicular traffic, and writing in 1836 the Rev. Dr
Brewster says :
" The want of a carriage bridge over the river at the town of
Leven has been much felt. This much desired improvement, how-
ever, is in contemplation, and it is hoped will soon be carried into
Just three years after Dr Brewster had thus written of
the river difficulties, a few public-spirited gentlemen sub-
scribed the necessary funds, and obtained an Act of
Parliament incorporating them as a Road and Bridge
Trust, for the purpose of building a stone bridge over the
Leven and improving the wretched statute-labour road to
Kirkcaldy. The present stone bridge was built in 1840,
and the parishes of Scoonie and Weiuyss were linked
together. With the opening of the stone bridge, the
THE BURGH OF LEVEN. 59
suspension bridge, like the ferry boat, was withdrawn, and
the old ford, where on many a wild night exciting scenes
had taken place, was discarded and soon became as little
known to the drivers of vehicles as the river Leven is
to-day to the salmon which annually hie themselves up the
silvery Forth. The people of the forties were proud of
their new bridge, and from the day of opening until the
abolition of the tolls on the public highways they cheer-
fully paid the halfpenny fee exacted for crossing. Although
since 1870, when the Act expired, the traffic of all kinds
has been conducted over the bridge without let or hindrance
and without the enforcing of any fee, the epithet of the
"Bawbee Brig" still clings to the structure. A painting of
Davie Finlay, who was in turn the ferryman from Dossie
Bay to Dubbieside, the toll-keeper at the suspension bridge,
and a water carrier in Leven, is preserved in the Greig
Institute. The portrait bears that it was procured from
Win. Anderson on 22nd Dec. 1851, and on the back there
is a placard which announces the launching of Davie's
coble boat thus :
"The new boat belonging to Davie Finlay, Esq., is to be
launched from the building yard of Mr Wm. Suttie on Saturday
first at four o'clock. The attendance of the public is respectfully
invited to witness the exhibition, as it is the first of the kind in
this part of the count}'. It is requested that those who have flags
should display them that day for the sake of Davie."
The portrait in the Greig Institute shows Davie in the
garb of a water carrier.
60 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Old and New Industries.
In 1546, when "Levynnis mouth" first bursts into view
historically, Leven was undoubtedly only a small fishing
hamlet. As time wore on, the fishings of the mouth of
the Leven arid Largo Bay grew in importance, and the
fishing communities of Leven and district were added to.
Leven followed up Methil and other places on the coast
in the establishment of the coal works and salt works,
which, with their smoking chimneys, led James VI., who
was proud of his wise sayings, to compare the county of
Fife to "A beggar's mantle with a fringe of gold." Leven
people found that they could not live by fishing and coal
and salt alone, and then came the advents of the hand-
loom linen industry and spinning. As the click of the
shuttle became weaker and weaker, the rattle of the
spinning machinery became stronger, and spinning is with
us to this day, while the handloom is only a dream and a
THE TRADE IN SALMON AND TROUT.
The Kirk -Session records, dating back to the middle of
the seventeenth century, throw some light on the fishing
industry. The Session were compelled to watch the river
on the Sundays for " Sabbath breakers," as well as the
streets of Leven for "stravagers" who failed to attend
divine service. It is recorded that in October 1645, three
men and a woman were brought before the Session on a
charge of killing "salmond" on a Sunday night. Threa-
tened with excommunication, they were forced to confess
their guilt, the male offenders being mulcted in substantial
fines, and ordained to own their fault in front of the pulpit
in the face of the whole congregation, while the female
THE BURGH OF LKVEX.
delinquent, in respect of her extreme youth, was allowed
to go with a public confession. The Rev. David Swan,
minister of the parish, writing in 1790, says that the
catches of salmon at the mouth of the river were heavy,
and the greater part of the fish caught were conveyed over
land to Newburgh and Perth, and from there shipped to
the London market.
The salmon fishing at the mouth of the Leven then
belonged to the estate of Durie. The river was not con-
taminated as it is at present, and the trout fishing from
Leven to Thornton was very valuable. In the beginning
of the nineteenth century works were springing up on the
hanks of the river from Leven all the way to Kinross, and
the salmon soon began to desert their favourite haunts.
Rankine, in his book of poems published in 1812, thus
sings the praises of the Leven :
I grind the corn, I saw the wood,
And of my mighty power
At Durie and Balgonie proud
I melt the sullen ore.
I bleach the Hnen fair and clean
To pure angelic hue.
And from earth's centre far, unseen,
1 raise the pit-coal too.
I spin the flax, whose canvas proud
Britannia's thunder spreads,
Confirms her empire o'er the flood,
Or wafts where glory leads.
After this joyous lilt, Rankine goes on to say
Late, at my confluence with the Firth,
The stately salmon play'd ;
But now they're fled their native birth,
Of ruthless B 11 afraid.
62 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
In a footnote he tells us that the " salmon have of late
deserted the river through the avarice of the fishers."
The angler may have had something to do with the reduc-
tion in the number of fish ; but most people will be in-
clined to think that the real reason of the sudden scarcity
of fish in 1812 is to be found in the fact that the river
was doing duty at many public works and was beginning
to send down the poisonous matter which ultimately drove
salmon and trout from the long stretch of water from
Leslie to the Leven mouth.
THE SALT AND MALT WORKS.
Before the Union of the Parliaments of England and
Scotland in 1707, Leven was renowned for its salt pans
and for the enterprise exhibited in connection with the
malt industry, and in 1790 there were as many as six
brewers of the nappie ales which formed the favourite
beverage of the times. Messrs J. & G. Brown are now
the only links we have with the malt and brewing industry
of the past. On the shore, on the very site where the
salters of old toiled, Mr Robert Gerrett to day carries on
a salt work with great enterprise. The chimney stalk of
Mr Gerrett's works stands on the site of the old "bucket
pat," which formed the sea water storage pond of the
works of other days ; and who among the older inhabi-
tants of Leven does not remember of the demolition of the
unpicturesque old windmill tower, which had stood for
centuries on the shore, and which had formed the driving
power for the pump by which the sea water was drawn to
the "pat?" In the Admiralty charts of the olden times
the windmill figured as one of the prominent landmarks
of the " village " of Leven. The row of red-roofed little
houses where the salters, who were practically slaves, lived
THE BURGH OF LEVEN. 63
has, like the windmill, vanished away. When the salt
Itax was withdrawn, salt came into Scotland from the
Continent and England, and the windmills soon began to
be stopped. In many parts of the country the trade re-
ceived its coup de grace when the salt mines of Cheshire
were discovered. What was the history of works generally
in Scotland was the record of the old salt pans of Leven.
"Mr Swan, in 1790, does not mention the works in the
" Old Statistical Account " under the heading of " Com-
merce "; and Mr Brewster, who wrote in 1836, does not give
salt a place among his " Manufactures." This means that
under the changes which followed the abolition of the tax
and the English discoveries of rock salt, the windmill of
Leven ceased to whirl, as it had done in other places, and
the "bucket pat/' was raised to the dignity of a " fairie
pond " or a sheet of water in which boys sailed their tiny
boats when the tides were " far, far back on the Leven
sands." In 1857, after the works had stood for many years,
Mr Alexander Clark arrived in Leven from Prestonpans,
and he revived the old industry of salt making. Mr Clark
was succeeded by his relative, Mr Gerrett, and Mr Gerrett
has completely transformed the works. What makes salt-
making possible in Scotland nowadays is the free use of
rock-salt, and " Poute," the poet of Coup-my-Horn, was
not even taking the usual poet's licence when, thirty years
ago, he wrote that Mr Gerrett
. . . Makes saut wi' steam
And now can grind as much within an hour
As they could do before in twenty -four.
In the Acts of the old Parliament of Scotland, we are
told that in 1672 Gibson of Durie received the sanction of
64 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Parliament to hold two fairs yearly in the burgh of barony
of Leven. In 1701 three fairs were held 22nd January,
23rd April, and 17th June and permission was granted
to hold a fourth on the 19th July, and a weekly market.
Swan tells us that in 1790 there was "a fair in the spring
for lintseed, and one every month from May to October
for white linen." The markets of the olden time were not
the markets of recent years, which people who have only
seen from forty to fifty summers are apt to associate with
gingerbread and pink and gold paper packages of the
" sweeties " which took the name of mixtures. In connec-
tion witli the old markets, the main streets of the market
town for a parish or district were taken possession of by
merchants who displayed all kinds of goods on the stands
which they erected. Over the fords of Scoonie and the
Leven "gentle and simple" nocked in great numbers to
Leven, and from the stands on the streets they purchased
their summer and winter articles of clothing. At these
markets the manufacturers of linen and the bootmakers
had no difficulty in disposing of their wares. Writing in
1790, for instance, Mr Swan tells us that there were 140
looms at work in Scoonie parish, and ' the manufacturers
have the benefit of a ready-money market for their cloth
as soon as cut from the loom without travelling 100 yards
from their own doors."
How happy the manufacturers of 1790 must have been.
It must have been a pleasant operation to cut a cloth from
the loom, carry it to a stand in the High Street or North
Street, and thus dispose of it without the aid of the whole-
sale or retail dealer. As Mr Swan notes, in 1790 there
were something like 140 looms in the parish, and they had
not increased much by 1835. There were only 148 males
and 22 females employed in connection with the industry;
THE BUUGH OP LEV EN. 65
but competition for the local trade had become keener, and
tbe weavers of Leven wei-e compelled to seek markets
outside tbe parish. That they nursed the " foreign " trade
with a fair amount of success is apparent from the fact
that 900 bales of linen goods were shipped in 1835. In
1845 the shipment of linen had become less, and earl} 7 in
the 'fifties, when steam power had been introduced in
factories at Dunfermline, Dundee, and other towns, the
totals fell off considerably. To-day there is not a single
handloom in operation in Scoonie parish.
Originally the site now occupied by Durie Foundry
was taken up by a bleachwork. In the " Scots Magazine "
for February 1743, the following occupies a prominent
place among the advertisements :
" William Hunter, bleacher at Leven, in the shire of Fife,
proposes to lay down cloth by the first of March, if the weather
permits. Cloth for this field is taken in by George Lothian,
merchant, at his shop, second door above the Old Bank Close.,
Lawn Market, Edinburgh; by Mrs Johnston, at her shop, opposite
to the head of the Broadwynd, Leith ; by James Haigie, merchant
in Kirkcaldy ; and at the Bleachfield. At all which places receipts
will be given. The prices of bleaching are as follows, viz. : All
plain linen, wrought in a reed under a twelve hundred, at three-
pence halfpenny ; twelve and thirteen at four-pence ; from thirteen
and not exceeding fourteen at four-pence half-penny ; from fourteen
and not exceeding fifteen at five-pence ; from fifteen and not ex-
ceeding sixteen at five-pence half-penny ; and all above at six-pence
per yard, yard broad or under ; cambric and diaper at four-pence.
It is desired that the owner's name should be sewed on one end of
each piece, and the number of yards on the other, with linen-
In 1790 eighteen hands were employed at the bleach-
work. The work seems to have been converted into an
iron foundry, chiefly for local and agricultural require-
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
ments, about the year 1808, or perhaps a little earlier.
The central rail of a small iron bridge made at the works,
and which the company have in their possession, has the
date 1810 cast on it. The foundry then was a small
concern, and belonged to a man of the name of Russell.
The works passed through his hands into those of a small
trading company, and a few years afterwards they were
purchased by the founders of the present company, Mr
Henry Balfour, son of a Provost of Dundee, and Mr James
Anderson. The manufactures from that time, and for
about twenty-five years, embraced cast-iron stoves and
boilers, water pipes, &c., for which the market was chiefly
Canada. The articles of manufacture were made in con-
siderable quantities during the winter months, and were
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 67
shipped in the spring and summer months from Leven
harbour by the "Urania," and other sailing vessels belong-
ing to Leven, to Quebec and other ports.
The founders were succeeded by their respective sons,
Mr Henry T. Balfour, Mr Robert Balfour, and Mr James
Anderson. Marked as the success had been under the
founders, it became even more marked in the hands of the
younger men. Mr Henry T. Balfour opened a London
agency, and in the city he formed a strong business con-
nection. For many years Mr Anderson of Norton con-
tinued an active member of the firm in Leven. Mr Creeke
joined the business in 1884, which has since been formed
into a limited liability company, with an agency in London,
under the title of Henry Balfour & Co., Limited. The
first directors were Mr T. C. Balfour of Carberry (chair-
man) ; Mr John Cowan, Edinburgh; Mr F. T. Wallace;
Mr Archibald Bowman; Mr John Balfour (who also acts
as secretary); and Mr Creeke. Owing to the death of two
members, the directorate has undergone some changes,
and Mr William Shepherd now occupies a place on the
board. The number of men employed in 1835 was 48.
This has risen to about 240, and the firm is now chiefly
engaged in the manufacture of gasworks apparatus, steel
structures, roofing, and contractors' plant, with a speciality
in concrete mixers. These latter machines are now in use
on many Government works, and on such important con-
tracts as the new docks and fortifications now being con-
structed at Hong Kong, Malta, Gibraltar, Cape of Good
Hope, and Plymouth. The firm is at present represented
in London by Mr Henry Puplett. Henry Balfour & Co.
have long had a splendid reputation at the collieries in
Fife for turning out machinery of the best type.
T.HE BDRGH OF LEVEN.
LEVEN LINSEED OIL MILLS.
An industry of some kind has been carried on at Leveii
Mills by the side of the Leven for Centuries. The dwelling
house which forms part of the group of buildings is one of
the oldest and internally one of the most interesting build-
inds in Leven. The works are at present in the hands of
John Balfour & Co., and in the spacious old premises oil
Leven Oil Hills and the Old Bridge (1875).
cake apparatus and a bone mill are in operation. The
works have been in the hands of the Balfour family since
1813. It was in 1813 that Mr Alexander Balfour erected
sawmill apparatus for dealing with home timber, his
brother, Mr David Balfour, at the same time removing
his bone mill from Startup to Leven Mills, where they
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS. 69
conjointly carried on these businesses, having at that date
secured a ninety-nine years' lease of the property. Even-
tually they transferred their interests to their brother, Mr
William Balfour, who had for many years successfully
carried on the farms of Nether Pratis and Bankhead.'
Mr William Balfour did not himself engage in business,
but put his son, Mr John Balfour, into the trades then
existing, and erected a spinning mill for' his son-in-law,
Mr Andrew Inglis, about 1838. These businesses were
carried on quite independently. Mr Andrew Inglis even-
tually retired from spinning, and Mr John Balfour con-
verted the mill into a linseed crushing mill about 1848.
Mr John Balfour died in 1866, and the business fell into
the hands of Mr James Balfour and Mr Alexander Inglis.
Mr James Balfour retired in 1870, and he was succeeded
by Mr John Balfour and Mr Alexander Inglis, until, in
1896, the latter retired and Mr John Balfour became sole
partner. A feu-charter was granted by Mr Christie in
1898, and the place is now on feu. The oil purification
department is extremely interesting, and the same falls to
be said of the working of the apparatus by which oilcake
is turned out read}' for the market. A turbine wheel of
70 horse-power provides tho motive power for the linseed
works. Bailie Balfour is proud of his turbine, "and so well
he may," is the conclusion the visitor is driven to as he
notes how sweetly the motor works.
In the " Old Statistical Account " we are told that
" there is a considerable roperie established at Leven and
a good number of shoemakers are constantly employed."
The "knights of St Crispin " as they were known in 1790
are no more. The old fairs, with their stands of boots,
70 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
are things of the past. With but short breaks, rope-
making has been carried on since 1790. Nearly forty
years ago Poute sang of '" Sunny Leven, where Matthew "
(Mr Matthew Elder) "spins his ropes." Mr Matthew
Elder was succeeded by his son, James Elder, who carried
on the business in the old roperie in School Lane until
1893. The Millfield Works, which are situated near the
railway station, were started by James Robertson in 1877.
Mr Robertson died in 1887, and was succeeded by his son,
who makes a speciality of packing cords for paper and
THE CREOSOTE WORKS.
Messrs Alexander Bruce & Company's creosote works
are one of the most recent additions to the industries of
Leven. Business men are compelled in these days of fierce
competition to specialise. Messrs Bruce & Company con-
fine themselves to railway sleepers and telegraph and tele-
phone poles, and such a hold have they of the market that
the Leven depot enjoys the unique position of being the
only telegraph pole depot in Scotland. It is only eighteen
years since the company started in Methil. Crushed out
of Methil by the dock extension scheme, the company
leased four acres of ground for works and storage to the
west of Leven railway station. The company now occupy
nine and a half acres. The poles are imported from Norway,
and the wood for the sleepers from Russia. The company
have works at Troon, Grimsby, and London. Mr T. E.
Wilson is the manager of the Leven works, and a better
representative the company could not have.
THE WEMYSS SAWMILLS.
In 1887 Messrs James Donaldson <fc Sons, of Tayport,
came to the banks of the Leven and founded what is now
THE BURGH OP LEVEN.
one of the largest woodyards in the country, giving em-
ployment to as many as seventy-five hands and occupying
about five acres. The firm are large importers of wood
from America and the Baltic. An idea of the business
carried on by the firm will be obtained when it is stated
that the cargoes of forty vessels were taken in at Methil
Dock in 1904. The works are fitted up with machinery
of the latest type, and in the course of a year the mould-
ings and finishings turned out for house work are enor-
mous. The firm has a big connection with the collieries
throughout Scotland, making a speciality of the heavy
timber used nowadays for colliery work. The partners of
the firm are Mr James and Mr George Donaldson. The
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
latter resides at Leven, and occupies a delightful house in
Links Road, while the former superintends the Tayport
MILLFIELD PAPER WORKS.
Messrs Grosset & Company have been happy in their
choice of a site for a paper work. The Kennoway burn
takes its rise among the Lomond hills, and in summer and
nillfield Paper Works.
winter the dam in front of the works is filled with delight-
fully pure water. The firm procured the site in 1880, and
in a comparatively short time they had a well-appointed
work in operation. A steadily increasing trade has neces-
sitated considerable additions to the works, and now some-
thing like three acres of ground are covered by well-
arranged buildings. The firm have concentrated their
THE BUUGH OP LEVEN. 73
efforts on machine glazed biscuit caps and envelope papers,
and the quality of the papers turned out has been such
that they have been able to open up a large connection
throughout the country. There are two machines of 84
inches each, and the motive power is supplied by six steam
engines of 400 (combined) horse-power. There are three
large sheds set aside for preparing the raw material, and
the three boilers in the boiling house each hold 25 cwts. of
rags. The machinery is the best in the market, and steam
and water power are employed. The paper - making
machines are each capable of producing from fifteen to
twenty tons a week. The works are under the immediate
supervision of Mr Grosset, the founder of the firm, and his
son, Mr Philip Grosset. Undoubtedly much of the success
is due to the admirable supervision given by the partners,
and in the counting house they have able assistance from
Mr William Grosset.
MINING IX AND ABOUT LEVEN.
The writer of the article on Scoonie in the <; Old Statis-
tical Account " says :
"There are very extensive seams of coal in the estate of Durie,
which have been wrought for upwards of a century. One seam is
of excellent quality, and used to be exported from Leven to Hol-
land, where it met with a more ready sale than most of the other
coals carried from this part of the country. This seam, so far as it
could be drained by the present water engine, is now exhausted.
The seams now working are of inferior quality, but answer for
land sale, and furnish fuel for two or three salt pans, which are
The water engine here referred to by Mr Swan was
erected on a shaft at Durie Broom, to the east of " Siller
Hole." The motive power for the huge pump was not
drawn from steam but from water, and it was really
wonderful the amount of enterprise which was exhibited
74 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND VVEMYSS.
in connection with the driving power. On an old map of
Durie estate, which is preserved by Mr Christie to this
day, two considerable sheets of water are noted the lochs
of Banbeath and of Durie. The mining engineers of the
olden time hit upon the idea of driving a mine through
the ridge which forms the " tail of the craig " of the Maiden
Castle at Kennoway Burns, and cutting a water channel
from the mine to Durie Broom. By this engineering feat
Kennoway Burn was tapped, the lochs drained, and an
abundant supply of water procured to drive the water
wheel at the pit.
The Durie Broom, or the " Engine Pit," as it was called,
was sunk to a lower level than the " Sauchbush " and
many other small pits which were opened on Durie estate,
and from which coals were gotten for many years for the
trade which was opened up between the port of Leven and
Holland. The machinery of the olden time ultimately
became overpowered with water, and for some years coal
working was abandoned on the estate. The return of the
exports and imports at Leven harbour for 1835 shows, for
instance, that 577 tons of coal were imported during the
year, but there was no coal exported. In 1854, however,
a firm, headed by Mr D. Landale, took a lease of the Durie
minerals, and sunk the " Burn Pit " near Scoonie Cemetery,
and an air shaft immediately to the north of the " Siller
Hole." Lying as it does in a hollow between the Leven
and the Aithernie dykes, the area operated upon was a big
trough of water, and the expenditure for pumping was so
great that the company found it difficult in hard times to
get a margin of profit. Abandonment came within a few
years, and the minerals immediately to the north of Leven
were allowed to lie undisturbed until 1893, when the Fife
Coal Company took a lease of the field and sunk two
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 75
shafts on the rising ground between the Scoonie and Silver
burns. Three workable seams of coal were found the
Eight Feet at 80 fathoms in depth, the Six Feet at 87
fathoms, and the Chemiss Splint at 100 fathoms. To
keep the pits dry the company had as much as 1600
gallons of water a minute to pump. The blaes imme-
diately overlying the coal were soft, and occasionally
blanks were found in the Chemiss splint seam. Opera-
tions were suspended in January 1903, and the great
puffing pits of a decade ago are, like the u Sauchbush "
and the " Durie Broom " shafts, abandoned, and the redd
bings and gaping holes are alone left to recall the activity
and the work of other days.
The dyke which divides the Durie minerals into two
fields runs in a north-westerly direction, considerably to
the south of Durie House. The section lying to the north
of this dyke will doubtless be tapped some day, and
history, as it has often done before, will repeat itself in
Durie mineral fields. The southern section, operated upon
by the old miners of Scoonie and the miners who worked
to the Fife Coal Company, are flooded by a great sheet of
water ; but it is believed that the dyke which divides this
section from the north section will be a sufficient barrier
to keep back the water from any workings which may be
carried on in connection with the development of the
minerals to the north of Durie House. The Fife Coal
Company commenced operations at their Leven Colliery
on the top of Kinarchie Braes in 1877, but as the colliery
is in Wemyss parish, details in connection with the work
are given in another chapter. Suffice it to say that the
Leven and Durie fields are divided by a dyke, so that the
Leven Colliery is protected from the water by which the
Durie workings have been flooded.
76 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
It may be interesting to state that the Dysart Main
Coal, which is the principal seam operated upon in Wemyss
and Markincli parishes, was not found by the Fife Coal
Company in the Durie pits, and as the upper seams get
thinner as we go east, it is argued by practical men that
the famous seam will not be found along the sandy beach
which lies between the Durie pits and Largo. The chances
are that the many mines which in the olden time were
driven into the slopes along which the railway now runs
worked only the crops of the upper coal seams, and the
ironstone which is met with in patches at certain points
in the district.
BHICKS, TILES, AND OCHRE.
A considerable portion of Leven was built from bricks
manufactured at Leven brick and tile works, by the side
of Scoonie Road. For nearly half a century the works
were carried on by Mr Alexander White and his son, Mr
John White, an ex-Provost of the Burgh, under the firm
name of John White & Son. Operations were stopped at
the works in 1880. In addition to manufacturing bricks
and tiles, Messrs White & Son did a considerable business
in the ochre trade, one of the oldest industries in Leven.
Mr Brewster in the "New Statistical Account" says :
"About the year 1802 a bore was put down near Scoonie bridge
which reached the bottom of the main coal, or a depth of 53
fathoms. This bore, besides the upper seams of coal, passed
through a stratum of ochre upwards of four feet thick, and three
seams of fire clay, two of which are of the finest quality. A bed of
ochre four feet thick, lying on the estates of Durie and Aithernie,
has been- wrought for several years, of which a considerable
quantity is exported."
The Messrs Landale had a considerable output of ochre
at their " Siller Hole " pit, and away further up the den in
the Aithernie direction Mr John Anderson operated on
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 77
the same seam of ochre with an " in-going-eye." On the
ochre being drawn from the mines it was conveyed to
Messrs White's and Mr Anderson's works and there it was
treated by grinding mills and exported in ships from the
harbour to all parts of the country. In 1835, 191 tons of
ochre, representing a value of 573, were exported from
Leven. At one time a considerable business was done in
red " keel " from Kennoway Den. The " keel " was used
principally for marking sheep, and the Leven ochre will
remind older people of the days when the " buts and the
bens" of the working classes were annually painted l>y
artistic matrons with an "orange" or a "canary" tint.
HAWKSLAW SPINNING MILLS.
The Hawkslaw Spinning Mills belong to The Boase
Spinning Company, Limited. The work is by far the
largest in the burgh of Leven indeed, it is the largest
spinning work in Fife and gives employment to upwards
of 600 hands. The spinning industry has for a long series
of years been carried on at Leven. In 1835 there were as
many as five mills in Leven for spinning flax and tow.
The five works gave employment, to 254 hands, and they
represented a combined capital of 15,000. In the fierce
competition which arose in the closing days of the sixties
and the seventies, through foreign competition, the pro-
prietors of many of the smaller mills in the " Kingdom "
were compelled to suspend operations. Leven was hit like
other places, and the profits became so small that the
proprietors in some instances were compelled to shut down
their works. At Hawkslaw Mills the manufacture of
fishing nets was carried on as well as spinning, and the
double industry gave the proprietors an advantage which
enabled them always to employ a fair number of hands.
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
In the early sixties the work belonged to A. Boswall &
Coy., Mr Alex. Boswall, who died in 1867, being the
principal partner. Messrs Henry and Robert Small
succeeded Mr Boswall, and shortly after they had acquired
the business they were joined by Mr W. L. Boase, of
Dundee, and the advent of Mr Boase brought about a
change in the trading name A. Boswall & Company
giving place to Small <fe Boase. On the death of Mr
Hawkslaw Spinning Works.
Henry Small, Mr Robert Small retired from the firm, and
Mr Boase was joined by his cousin, Mr Edward Boase,
who had had a military training. Mr Edward Boase died
in June 1878, and previous to his death Mr Shaun was
assumed as a partner. In July 1886 a limited liability
company was formed in connection with Hawkslaw Works,
the name taken being the Boase Spinning Company. In
THE BURGH OP LEVEN. 79
1892 the manufacturing business carried on by Messrs
W. L. Boase & Company, in Dundee, was amalgamated
with the Leven business, and the two concerns have since
then been carried on by the limited liability company.
Mr W. L. Boase is the General Manager and Chairman of
the Company, and on the board of directors he has
associated with him his four sons namely, Messrs E.
Leslie Boase, G. H. Lindsay Boase, W. Norman Boase,
and P. Meldrum Boase, and Mr T. Murdoch. Mr George
Craig, who is resident in Leven, is secretary of the Company.
Despite the depression which has been experienced in
connection with the spinning trade throughout Scotland
during the past 35 years, because of foreign competition,
the record at the Hawkslaw Works has been one of unin-
terrupted progress. The Chairman of the Company has
been fully alive to the ever-changing conditions of the
industry, and as the time came for dropping ends of the
trade which were no longer practicable, new departments
were introduced with most satisfactory results.
At one time a large business was done in fishing nets
and lines made from Russian hemp, but as time went on
the finer fibered Italian hemp was introduced and other
ends of the trade taken up, and now flax bulks largely in
the Company's business, very large contracts for Govern-
ment and for railway companies being undertaken
annually. In every department the mill is well appointed.
At one time the heckling was carried on at Millfield, the
site of the paper works, but in course of time the old
heckle room was abandoned and concentration achieved by
the building of a heckle room at Hawkslaw.
On the Riverbank Mill, which belonged to the late Mi-
Thomas Crabb, coming into the market, it was acquired by
80 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND VVEMYSS.
the Boase Company and included within the Hawkslaw
gates. The General Manager is happy in his board of
directors. His sons have had a practical training in
various departments of the works, and the same falls to be
said of Mr Murdoch. The Leven works are under the
immediate supervision of Mr E. Leslie Boase. Nothing
gives the Chairman of the Company more pleasure than to
pay a visit to Leven. He has been a member of Inner-
leven Golf Club for many years, and although no longer
young, he gets health and enjoyment from an occasional
round on the links by Leven and Lundin.
DERATED WATER AND LAUNDRY WORKS.
Six years ago Provost Adamson opened the Glebefield
aerated water works near the Railway station. The works
are splendidly appointed, and the daily output of sparkling
waters is large. Under the management of Mr J.
Kinncar Campbell, the Durie aerated water works have
been reconstructed, and the business has been largely
increased. The Leven steam laundry was opened in the
spring of 1905 by the Kirkcaldy Laundry Company. The
fittings are of the most modern type and the company
turns out good work. There is also a laundry work in
The Old Waggon Road.
Amidst all the changes which have been experienced in
the Burgh of Leven in recent years, perhaps the most
striking change of all is that which time has wrought on
the old Waggon Road. The coals which were exported
from Leven harbour to Holland, Norway, and the upper
reaches of the Baltic, were trundled down the old Waggon
Road in bogies. The bogies were drawn by horses on
wooden rails, and in the busy shipping season the crack ot
THE BURGH OP LEVEN.
the driver's whip, the creaking of stiff wheels and the
rattle of tail chains could be heard day arid night. The
sides of the waggon way have, for a considerable distance,
been taken up by cottages of a modern type. Brambles
and rose bushes grow in profusion on the slopes of the line
to the north of the North British Railway. The waggon
way is one of the finest inland walks in the district, so
that if the people of Leven have lost in one way through
the stoppage of the " Sauchbush " and the " Siller Hole "
pits, they have gained in another by their being permitted
to ramble among the haunts of bush and birds without
being troubled by the rattle of waggons and the noise
which comes from the accessories of a colliery.
The Valuation of Scoonie.
The valuation of a burgh or parish is accepted as much
as the census returns as an index to decay or progress.
The following table bearing on the valuation of Scoonie
will be read with interest by people of a statistical turn of
... 17,598 19
18,022 12 4
18,528 18 7
19,136 15 1
19,581 1 10
19,760 11 6
20,260 16 11
20,781 18 4
21,250 9 11
The burgh made a distinct leap forward in 1878 and
1880, when the Leven coalfields began to be opened up,
19,026 3 11
82 RAMBLES IN SCOON1R AND WEMYSS.
and it will be seen from the above statistics that the
progress was very marked from 1893 to 1897. Since. 1897
things have moved quietly ; but still progress has been
The Parish Council.
Popularly elected bodies were for the first time con-
stituted for the government of Scottish burghs in 1833.
Parochial Boards, mainly representative of the rights of
property, were called into existence by the Poor Law
(Scotland) Act, 1845, the parish being the Poor Law area.
The Local Government Act, 1889, gave practically the
same self-government to the landward parts of the parish
as the burghs had enjoyed for years ; the Act of 1894
introduced the principle of self-government into Poor
Law administration, and in 1895 the Parochial Board
gave place to the Parish Council. Here are the names of
the chairmen of Scoonie Parish Council since the passing
of the Act: Mr John Wilkie, 20th May 1895 to Decem-
ber 1898; Mr R. M. Christie of Durie, from December
1898 to' December 1904; Mr John White, elected 1904
and continues in office. Mr James Philp was appointed
Inspector cf Poor in. May 1879, and continues to fulfil the
duties of the office. Mr Philp is also Clerk to the Council.
The Rev. David Swan gives us the following glimpse at
the administration of poor funds in the parish in 1790:
" There are no begging poor in this parish. About fifteen or
sixteen families receive from 6<1 to Is of weekly supplies, according
to their respective circumstances. Three or four have a small
monthly allowance, besides occasional charities given to families in
distress. The members of the Kirk Session are very careful in
guarding on the one hand against impositions, and on the other
hund, that no necessitous person be neglected. The only funds for
the support of the poor are the weekly collections at the church
doors, amounting to about 26 ; the collection at- the Communion,
THE BURGH OF LEVKN. 83
dispensed twice a year, 11; seat rents, 4; and a trifling sum
from the mort-cloth, amounting altogether to 45 or 46 sterling
Writing in December 1836, nine years before the
Poor Law Act came into operation, the Rev. Dr Brewster
" The average number of paupers upon the register roll for the
last three years is 15 ; but none are placed there unless those who,
from age and infirmity, appear altogether incapacitated from ever
earning a maintenance for themselves. A much greater number of
poor receive occasional assistance during a temporary illness, or in
winter, when there is no outdoor work. This is given at the dis-
cretion of the minister or the elder of the district, which has the
effect of stimulating their own exertions, and tends in some
measure to keep alive a spirit of independence, which, I fear, is
fast fading from our population. The average annual disburse-
ments made by the Kirk Session for the last three years amounted
to 219 14s Id to regular and occasional paupers, 161 15s 5d ; to
pauper lunatics, 42 19s 4d ; and to sessional expenses, 14 I9s4d.
Of this sum the church-door collections amounted to 62 17s 7d,
and sundries to 8 4s 6d. The remainder was contributed by the
heritors according to their valued rents."
The Stage Coach and the Railway.
In 1836 there were two arrivals of mails and two
dispatches at the Post Office of Leven daily. The stage
coach passed through Leven from Anstruther for Edin-
burgh three times a week, and a steamboat plied between
Granton or Leith twice a day during the summer months
and once in the winter months. There being no bridge
over the Leven near the town of Leven, the stage coach
was run via Cameron Bridge. The railway from Leven to
Thornton was opened in 1854, and trains first began to be
run to Largo and eastwards in August 1857. The line is
only a single one ; but the passenger traffic has increased
so much in recent years that it is expected the North
British Railway Company will construct a double line at
no distant date.
84 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Leven Water Supply.
The Water Act empowering the Town Council to
introduce the Carlhurlie or Pratis burn water supply was
obtained in 1889. The pipe track is about four miles.
The water was introduced in 1891, and the works, includ-
ing the filters, cost 23,300. The reservoir takes up
about 23 acres.
Leven Lovely for Situation.
The Rev. David Swan disposes of the situation of the
town of Leven in a single line " the beach is sandy and
the shore quite flat." Mr Swan's description is true
enough ; but it does not by any means exhaust the subject.
Leven is positively lovely for situation. In every season
of the year Largo Bay, whether the breeze
" With careering wing
Stays like an unseen being on the water,"
or the stormy wind angrily sweeps the surface, is ever
interesting. The softly rippling waves have a soothing
influence on the mind and are suggestive of the calms of
life ; the thunder of the billows recalls the strifes of the
world. But a most interesting feature of Largo Bay is the
perpetual change of colour. In days when the sky is
clear we have the "dark blue sea." In days when the
clouds are moving to and fro, as if driven by a rushing
mighty wind, we have light and dark blues and light and
dark greens in turn, while in the days when the
" Rain from the sky turns into pearl"
as it touches the calm water, and Nature seems to be
"speaking" in whispers, the feeling of repose is charming.
As the sun glints through the clouds, the white side of the
Bass Rock lights up the Forth, and a little further up the
firth the eye lights on the greens of North Berwick Law
TIIE BOUGH OP LEVEN. 85
and the country which surrounds it. It has been said by
a poet that spring silently passes into summer ; summer
fades in the golden tints of autumn, and autumn dies in
the cold embrace of winter. The view across the Forth in
winter, with its " chill embrace," has as many charms as it
has in summer. In winter, when the sun is late in rising,
it seems to turn the Bass into a huge emerald, and in a
short time afterwards it sits like a golden crown upon
North Berwick Law. Largo Law and Elie Point, and the
long stretches of glistening sand, have all their beauties in
spring, in summer, in autumn, and in winter. The
Apostle of the Gentiles, in writing to the Church at Rome
in the hope of convincing them that the heathen world
had little excuse for sheer indifference, although they had
no direct revelation, says: "That the invisible things of
God from the creation of the world were clearly seen in
the things which He had made, even His eternal power
and Godhead." There are few more striking types of
the " invisible things of God " than the pictures which are
unfolded by nature daily on the " flat sandy beach " of
Leven and in Largo Bay.
Formation of a Gas Company for the Burgh.
As far back as 1837, a meeting of the inhabitants of
Leven was held for the purpose of considering the advis-
ability of forming a company for lighting the town with
gas. It was agreed to form a joint stock company. The
company was duly launched with a capital of 800, and so
rapidly were the works constructed that in October just
eight months after the first meeting we find the manage-
ment of the Relief Church in Viewforth Square making
application for a supply of gas for the church. In the
closing days of October 1837 gas was first turned on at
the works. The Company was a success from the day of
86 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
its inception, and in November 1846 the capital was
raised from 800 to 1,500. In 1854 the capital was
increased to 1800; in 1897 to 3,600; and in 1900 to
9,000. The following are the names of the managers : -
1837-1845, James Aifcken ; 1845-1846, John Gillies ; 1846-
1849, John Low; 1849-1859, John Dasken ; 1859-1860,
James C. Adamson: 1860-1869, J. Lowden ; 1869-1870,
Wm. Manclark; 1870-1873, Henry Landale ; 1873-1900,
Robert Readdie ; 1900, P. L. Readdie.
Mr Lowden was the originator of the North British
Association of Gas Managers, and was for two years its
president. The present manager is a son of Mr Robert
Readdie, who was the manager for 27 years, and under
whose management the works were much extended.
Some of the Customs of other Days.
In his article in the " Old Statistical Account," Mr
Swan has a chapter devoted to the " advantages " and
" disadvantages " of Scoonie, and under the heading of the
former he says :
" It is no small advantage to this parish, particularly to the
town of Leven, that they have no connection with corporation or
borough politics, which for the most part are attended with such
bad effects upon the industry and the morals of the people."
Mr Swan's note is a terrible reflection upon local govern-
ment in the burghs in the closing days of the eighteenth
century. These were the days when Lucky Skinner in
her hostelry at Kinghorn could control a parliamentary or
a municipal election. A Member of Parliament for a
group of burghs was elected by a representative from each
burgh, and it was no uncommon thing for one or more of
the members of the " constituency " to be kidnapped,
carried to an alehouse, and held a prisoner until the
election was over. Time has brought changes in connection
THK BUHGH OF LKVEN. 87
with parliamentary and municipal elections. If only the
minister of the parish could come back to the former
scene of his labours he would find that the people are
now-a-days alive to the responsibilities of self-government,
and that municipal and parliamentary elections come and
go without affecting in the slightest degree the ''industries"
or the "morals" of the community.
Considering Mr Swan's strong scent for vagaries
among his parishioners and his contempt for institutions
which might interfere with the " morals " of the people, it
is inexplicable that he should have tolerated such a custom
as that complained of by his successor, Dr Brewster. In
the " New Statistical Account," Dr Brewster says :
" It may be proper to mention an improvement in the mode of
conducting funerals, which has tended much to the comfort and
convenience of the working classes. When the present incumbent
came to the parish, it was customary to have at least thr^e services,
but often more one of spirits with bread and cheese, and two of
wine with cake and biscuits. The services not only occasioned
much delay, but entailed a heavy expense upon poor families,
which, at such a season especially, they were little able to bear.
Now the services are altogether discontinued, the procession com-
mences precisely at the hour appointed, and it may be recorded to
the credit of the community that generally they entered most
readily into the new arrangement."
It appears from this paragraph that the mournful
processions were often delayed so that the services of
spirits and wine might be continued the delay was
perhaps even a worse feature of the custom than the tax
through which the pockets of poor people were drawn
upon to an extent they were little able to bear.
From Chapman to Rector and Author.
For genius and learning. Jerome Stone was one of the
most remarkable men the parish of Scooiiie has produced.
88 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WKMYSS.
He was born in 1727. His father sailed a small ship
between the port of Leven and the Continent, and died
abroad when Jerome was only three years of age. There
was a considerable family, and the mother and the young
family were left in straitened circumstances. Jerome
attended the parish school of Scoonie, and while a mere
child took up the business of a travelling chapman. Swan
says that the " dealing in buckles, garters, and such like
small articles " did not suit his " superior genius." He
therefore converted his stock into books, and for some
years went through the country and attended the fairs as
an itinerant bookseller. At Wemyss, Scoonie, Anstruther,
St Andrews, and the different fairs in the " Kingdom," he
handled his books as a man who loved them, and really
seemed to pay more attention to the improvement of the
mind than to the pecuniary side of the question. At an
early age he showed that he had a peculiar talent for
acquiring languages. He first learned Hebrew and Greek,
without assistance from any teacher, and feeling that he
could not make the progress that he desired without a
knowledge of Latin, he applied to Mr John Tuscan, the
parish schoolmaster of Scoonie, for assistance. Principal
Tullidelph, a heritor of the parish, encouraged him to
prosecute his studies at St Andrews University, and there
he became a great favourite with professors and students.
Before he had been many months in St Andrews he was
reeling off humorous poetical pieces for the ' Scots
Magazine." While in his third session he was recom-
mended by the professors as the student best qualified to
fill the position of assistant teacher in the school of
Dunkeld. The Scoonie chapman taught with marked
ability, and in little more than two years after his
appointment he was promoted to the rectorship, on the
THE BURGH OF LEV EN. 89
post becoming vacant. He studied Gaelic at Dunkeld.
At first he thought the language a "barbarous gibberish";
but he soon discovered something of its true genius and
character and translated a number of " daring, passionate,
and bold" poems into English. He died while preparing
for the press a treatise entitled an " Inquiry into the
Original of the Nation and Language of the Ancient
Scots, with conjectures about the primitive state of the
Celtic and other European Nations." Tn this treatise
Stone tries to prove that the Scots drew their origin, as
well as their language, from the Gauls. The learned men
of the time who had a peep at the manuscript write of it
as a work which showed "great ingenuity, immense read-
ing, and indefatigable industry." Stone also left in manu-
script an allegory entitled " The Immortality of Authors."
It was published after his death, and because of " its
lively fancy, sound judgment, and correct taste," says the
Rev. David Brewster, has run into many editions. Poor
Stone was cast down by a fever in 1757, while in his
30th year. Who knows what one so gifted would have
accomplished had he seen 60 summers instead of 30 1 He
had a great love for his mother, who survived him two
years, and who was provided for in life by the Duchess of
Atholl, as a testimony of respect to the memory of her
gifted son. Although generally called Jerome, the real
name of this gifted son of Sooonie was Jeremiah. Here is
an extract from the register of baptisms of the Parish of
Scoonie kept in H.M. Register House, Edinburgh :
" 1727, March 17 Jeremiah, lawfull son to William Stons and
Janet Hegges, in Leven, was baptized in face of the congregation."
90 KAMBLKS IN SCOONIK AND \VKMYSS.
AROUND THE PARISH.
Scoonie Burial Places.
rVURING the past century a great many burial mounds
*-' have been opened in Scotland, and in many instances
the discoveries made give us what may be spoken of as
moonlight glimpses of the days when " wild in woods the
noble savage ran." When ancient Caledonia was thickly
covered with vast forests, the inhabitants were thinly
scattered along the fringes of the woods, and by the sands
of the seashore. Their lives were like the vapour spoken
to by the Apostle James " they appeared only for a little
while and then they vanished away." The}' vanished
away without leaving any written records of the lives they
lived, and the histories of the savage races lie buried in
the mounds which are met with in all parts of the country.
The contents of these mounds are very similar. To-day a
tumulus is opened which contains a heap of flint flakes,
for making a new supply of arrows in the "dim beyond ; "
to-morrow a pre-historic cemetery is laid bare in which
there are many rude stone cists. In the cists, skeletons,
unshapely sun-dried clay food and drinking vessels, and
flint arrow and spear heads are found. The flint imple-
ments of warfare take us back to the Stone Age ; and
the food and drinking vessels tell us of a time when the
dead of Scotland were buried with a supply of food for
their "long journe}'."
AROUND THE PARISH. 91
Scoonie Parish has provided more than one burial mound
which give us a peep at the parisli of other days. In the
"Old Statistical Account " Mr Swan says :
" The only antiquities this parish can boast of are some stone
coffins which have been found to the eastward of the river, with
human bones, supposed to have been buried there in the ninth
century, when a battle was fought on these grounds between the
Scots and the Danes."
If Mr Swan's supposition is right, it would give colour to
the idea that the Standing Stones of Lundin had been
erected to the memory of some Danish chiefs who fell in
the deadly combat which was waged between Danish
invaders and the early inhabitants of the sunny slopes of
Largo and Scoonie.
But in 1821 a much more interesting relic of antiquity
than that of the ninth century was opened in a field on
the estate of Aithernie. When digging moulding sand for
Leven Foundry, the workmen struck right into the heart
of an ancient tumulus. This cemetery of pre-historic
times contained as many as twenty rude stone cists.
These cists were typical of the pre-historic burial places
found throughout the country. They were constructed of
slabs placed on edge, with a covering stone, and cemented
with clay puddling. Above the coffins was a covering of
stones, the stones having hundreds of years before been so
firmly cemented together with clay and sand that the
workmen required the aid of picks to enable them to
" rifle the tombs." Small urns were found in two of the
coffins, and five of them contained larger urns, 14 inches
in diameter and 24 inches in depth, and in another cist
quantities of charred wood beads were discovered. All the
coffins, except the five in which were the large urns, con-
tained human bones, and innumerable bones were found
outwith the mouths of the cists.
HAMCLES IN SCOONIK AND WKMYSS.
The Scoonie Stone.
AROUND THE PARISH.
And in addition to the Aithernie find, we have the
famous Scoonie Stone, which was discovered and handed
over to the Antiquarian Museum in 1866. The stone is thus
described in the Proceedings of the Antiquarian Society :
" The stone measures 3 feet 6 inches in length, 2 feet 4 inches in
breadth, and 4 inches in thickness. The stone displays on the
upper part the so-called "elephant" or beaked animal, its ex-
tremities terminating in scrolls ; and below it apparently a deer
hunt ; a rider on horseback, and in front of him a dog on the point
of seizing a full antlered stag, with a javelin apparently buried in
its side. Below these is another horseman, and in front of him a
dog, and below the dog a third horseman. At the lower angle of
the stone is cut a small cross. Along the whole left of the stone is
incised an Ogham inscription. On the reverse is sculptured a
Latin cross, with a plain circular disk in the centre, and the limbs
filled up with interlaced rope or knot work ; the scroll termination
of the nondescript animal (like the dog-headed animals on the
Ulbsteii and Brodick Stones) appears over the left limb of the
The Ogham alphabet is supposed to take us back to the
days of the Roman occupation of Britain.
On Durie Vale farm, on the borders of the Parish of
Scoonie, Mr John Wallace, farmer, laid bare two stone
cists five years ago. Centuries after the tumulus of
Aithernie had been abandoned as a place of sepulture, the
God's-acre on the little hill by the burn of Scoonie became
the burial place for the parish. As far back as 1055, the
Church of Scoonie was granted to the Culdees of Loch
Leven by the Bishop of St Andrews. All the movement
and the force of centuries of the little Parish of
Scoonie have been garnered here. The men and women
who toiled in the fields ; the men svho commanded
the ships which carried Durie coals to Holland ;
the men who plied the shuttle in the town of Leven,
and the women who sjx-nt many a weary hour at the
94 RAMBLES IN SCOONIK AND WEMYSS.
spinning wheel, have all found a last resting place on
the knoll around the site of the old church which nine
hundred years ago fell into the hands of the Loch Leven
Culdees. The resident of to-day who has " fallen on
sleep " finds a last resting place side by side with the old
world dreamer of centuries ago. As a burial vault for the
Durie family, the fragment of the old church presents
a striking contrast to that which the building did
when Moncrieff, the noted " keeper of Conventicles,"
thundered his protests from the pulpit, and when the
villagers congregated in a knot and discussed the latest
vagaries of Charles L, the last wedding, or the new-made
grave. The old bell, to whose music the hearts of Scoonie
people had beaten, is no longer witli us, and the sun-dial
has ceased to case its silent shadow on spots where the
remains of parishioners have been gathered to their
mother earth. A glance, too, at the inscriptions on many
of the grave stones indicates a very different faith in a
future life to that held by the warriors who were buried
with their food vessels and their flint implements of war-
fare " Perpetual changes glide on in eternal continuity."
" By tlie same law those globes wheel round,
Each drawing each, yet all still found
In one eternal system bound,
One order to fulfil."
It may be interesting to state that the first extension
of the cemetery was made in 1841, the second in 1866,
just after the parish had been visited by the cholera
scourge, the third in 1886, and in the spring of 1905 a
fourth was carried through. The improvement of 1905
was undoubtedly the most important of all the changes.
Something like 1 :] acres were added to the ground, an
entrance made from the north and a neat house built for
AROUND THE PARISH. 95
the superintendent. The extension cost the Parish
Council something like 2100 ; the addition of 1886
necessitated an outlay of ,535 3s.
There are some quaint-looking memorials in Scoonie
Cemetery, but there is an absence of the striking epitaphs
which are common to some places of sepulture. Un-
doubtedly the most notable among the older stones is
that which marks the resting-place of Thomas Gourlay of
Banbeath, and which bears the date 1641. A notable
tribute is paid to Mr Andrew Wilkie, who was the first
Chief Magistrate of the Burgh of Leven, and who died
in 1878. The memorial is spoken of as an affectionate
tribute of " loving and sorrowing friends," and the
inscription concludes : " Take him for all in all, we shall
not look upon his like again." The inscription on the
monument erected over the grave of the Rev. Dr George
Brewster presents a striking contrast to the words one
reads on the handsome marble stone erected in memory of
the Rev. James Blackwood, who took up duty in the
parish in 1866. Dr Brewster died in the 42nd year of his
ministry ; poor Blackwood had only been two years in the
parish when he fell on sleep. And so we are told that "his
sun went down when it was yet day." A Runic cross
marks the grave of the Rev. Dr Duncan who is still re-
membered for his "Genius and Common Sense." The Rev.
Adam Forman of the Free Church, like Dr Brewster, was
71 years when he died.
Leven Golf Links.
THE INNERLEVKX CLUB.
Innerleven Golf Club was formed in 1820. It must
not for a moment be thought, however, that 1820 was the
first year on which the Royal and Ancient game was
96 RAMBLKS IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
played on the classic links of Dubbieside. Some people
may tell us that Outram was taking the poet's proverbial
licence when he sung of the days when
Adam bathed in Leven tide,
And Eve reposed at Dubby side ;
but it will not be a difficult matter to persuade golfers that
as far back as the middle of the eighteenth century men in
tile hats and claw-hammer coats chased the ball and
wielded the cleek on the "velvet links " which stretched
between the Leven and the old harbour of Methil. Mr
W. Dalrymple, the writer of the article on Innerleven in
" British Golf Links," states that he had seen an account
for the price of a club, which bore the date 1761. This
takes us back to the days when the Hon. James Wemyss
of Wemyss owned the lands of Wemyss and Tnnerleven,
and just a year before Mr Wemyss entered Parliament as
the Member for the county of Fife.
It was in 1867 that the Innerleven Club finally
abandoned the Dubbieside course of nine holes and cook
up the links which stretch between Scoonie Burn and the
village of Lundin Links. The following is the motion
which was unanimously adopted on 6th September 1867:
" Taking into consideration the rough state and yearly
diminishing breadth of Dubbieside links, it would be for the benefit
of the Innerleven Golfing Society if they were to discontinue
holding their competitions on the said links, and in lien adopt the
popular green at Leven."
Smoke from the pit had in 1867 only begun to
cast its shadows on Kinnarchie Braes and Aberhill and
the greens which lay between Nicol Malcolm's dairy and
Jenny Nicol's well. After 1869 the course on which
many a stift' battle had been fought had begun to be
gradually encroached upon by mineral developments, and
AROUND THE PARISH.
the encroachment has gone on year after year, by coalpits,
redd-bings, and railway sidings, till to-day there is not a
patch of the turf of the old course to be seen. If Dr
Graham, the laureate of the Club in its Dubbieside days,
could come back from the "dim beyond" and take a peep
from Kinnarchie Braes at the once "blissful spot," he would
be apt, instead of indulging in poetry, to use one or other of
the epithets which fell from the lips of the red-coats of the
olden time when the " leather " was trapped in the whins
Innerleven and Thistle Golf Club-Houses.
(By permission of Mr A. Hogg, Chemist.)
which protected the " Whin Hole," or fell short of the
ridge which made the " High Hole" one of the most sport-
ing on the green.
In 1841, long before golf had penetrated into every
part of the world, and certainly before it was looked upon
by communities generally as a health-giving game, Dr
Graham wrote of it thus :
98 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Wha would be free from doctors' bills,
From trash o' powders and o' pills,
Will find a cure for a' his ills
On the Links o' Innerleven :
For there whar lasses bleach their claes,
And bairnies toddle doun the braes,
The merry golfer daily plays
On the Links o' Innerleven.
In the same poem the laureate gives us the following
glimpse at the old clubhouse, where many a keen tussle
was fought over again :
Sae hie ye to the golfers' ha',
And there, arranged alang the wa",
O' presses ye will see a raw
At the Club o' Innerleven.
There from some friendly box ye'll draw
A club and second-handed ba'
A Gourlay pill 's the best o' a'
For health at Innerleven.
Gourlay was a famous ball maker. In 1848, Dr Graham
sung thus of the advent of the gutta-percha ball:
Though gouf be of our games most rare,
Yet, truth to speak, the tear and wear
0' balls was felt to be severe,
And source o' great vexation :
When Gourlay's balls cost half-a-crown,
And Allan's not a farthing down,
The feck o's wad be harried soon
In this era o' taxation.
Right fain we were to be content
Wi' used-up balls new lickt wi' paint,
That ill concealed baith scar and rent
Balls scarcely fit for younkers
And though our best wi' them we tried,
And nicely every club applied,
They whirred and fuffed and dookcd and shied,
And sklintit into bunkers.
But times are changed we dinna care
Though we may ne'er drive leather mair,
Be't stuffed wi' feathers or wi' hair
For noo we're independent :
At last a substance we ha'e got
Frae which, for scarce mair than a groat,
A ba' comes that can row and stot
A ba' the most transcendent.
AROUND THE PARISH. 99
Hail, gutta-percha, precious gum !
O'er Scotland's links lang may ye bum.
Some purse-proud billies haw and hum,
And say ye're douf at fleein' ;
But let them try ye fairly out
Wi' ony balls for days about,
Your merits they will loudly tout,
And own they ha'e been leein'.
The names of the leading families of mid and east
Fife appear on the roll of membership. As one turns over
the pages, he comes across the names of the Wemysses of
Wemyss Castle ; Anstruthers of Balcaskie ; Oswalds of
Dunnikier ; Balfours of Balbirnie ; the Bethunes of Blebo
and of Balfour ; Rintouls of Lahill ; Christies of Durie
Haigs of Ramornie ; and Gilmours of Montrave. One
of the founders of the Innerleven Club was Mr James
Peter, of the Kirkland Works, on the banks of Leven
Water. Mr James Peter was a captain of the club in
1826, and others of the name to fill the chair were Mr
John Peter, 1842 ; Mr H. Tandy Peter, 1844 to 1868 ; and
Mr Tom Peter in 1861. The latter wrote a book of
" Golfing Reminiscences." He and his brother James
were credited with devising the hand -hammering of balls,
which led to the ultimate marking of guttas.
The first amateur tournament was held on the links of
the "City by the Sea" in 1858; but three years before
that April 1 855 Captain Wemyss of Wemyss Castle
was commissioned by the Innerleven Club to raise the
question of a tournament with the Royal and Ancient
Club of St Andrews. And at that time there was no club
in the country which could bring forward a better foursome
of amateurs than the club whose headquarters was on the
" velvet links " of Dubbieside.
The present club-house, which was erected from plans
prepared by Mr Gillespie, St Andrews, is splendidly
RAMBLES IS SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
situated, a view of the entire course being obtained from
some of the windows. The red bricks and the red roof
make a striking picture, looking from the east across the
links or the sandy beach.
Mr John Adamson, Captain, Innerleven Golf Club.
Mr John Adamson is captain of the Club. Mr Adam-
son is the oldest playing member of the club, having joined
in 1851, when the club played on Dubbieside Links
After long residence abroad, he returned to Leven in 1870
and took up farming at Bankhead, but has latterly resided
AROUND THE PARISH.
in Leven. He plays a wonderful game for a man who has
played golf since 1851.
Mr Wm. Shepherd WAS appointed Secretary of the Club
in 1899. It is sixteen years since he came to Leven and
Mr Wm. Shepherd, Hon. Secy., Innerleven Golf Club.
took up business. He learnt his golf on Musselburgh and
Gullane Links. His stay in Leven has quickened his
interest in the game, and he is one of the steadiest players
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND VVEMYSS.
on the course, in 1905 carrying off the Wemyss Trophy
with a score of 77. Mr Shepherd is as genial in his busi-
ness relations as solicitor and bank agent as he is on the
Mr James Bell is the Treasurer of the Club. He was
appointed in 1902, and fulfils the duties with marked
ability. Mr Bell is a native of Leven. His neat pitching
is a feature of his game on the links.
The following is a complete list of the names of the
Captains since the founding of the Innerleven :
Rev. Geo. Brewster, 1821, 1822
Alex. Wallace, - - 1825
John Wallace, 1823 and 1857
C. M. Christie, 1824 and 1833
James Peter, - - - 1826
John Haig, 1827, 1845, and 1862
Henry Balfour, - - 1828
Thomas Greig, - - 1829
Robert Bisset, - - 1830
Dr George Forbes, - 1831
James Simpson, - - 1832
Robert Haig, - - - 1834
James Fernie, - - 1835
David Wallace, - - 1836
David Wylie, - - 1837
James Balfour, 1838 and 1839
Rev. Thomas Cutler, - 1840
James Anderson, sen., - 1841
John Peter, - - - 1842
David M. Adamson, - 1843
H. T. Peter, 1844 and 1863
John Howie, - - 1846
P S. Deas, 1847 and 1848
John Wood, - - - 1849
Wm. Glass, - - - 1850
H. Thomas Peter, - 1851
James Greenhill, - - 1852
Adam Morrison, - - 1853
Robert Balfour, - - 1854
Jas. H. E. Wemyss, - 1855
John Wallace, - - 1857
J. T. Oswald, 1856, 1868, 1869
Samuel C. Thomson, - 1858
William Haig, - - 1859
Dr Neil A. Kennedy, - 1860
Andrew Wilkie, - - 1861
James Anderson, jun., - 1864
John Dunn, - - - 1865
Wm. Henry Haig, - - 1866
Robert Rintoul, - - 1867
Robert T. Boothby, - - 1870
Sir R. Anstruther, Bart , - 1871
Robert Christie, 1872 and 1873
Sir J. Gilmour, Bart., 1874,
1875, and 1876
Charles Anderson, - - 1877
John Balfour, - - 1878
R. M. Christie, 1879 and 1880
R. G . E. Wemyss of Wemyss
Castle, 1881, 1882, and 1883
Alan Stewart, - - - 1884
E. Balfour of Balbirnie, - 1885
Randle Jackson, - - 1886
Rev. D. Brewster, 1887 and 188S
G. T. Chiene, 1889 and 1890
W. L. Boase, - - - 1891
John M'Kee Lees, - - 1892
H. V. Haig, 1893 and 1894
Charles Cook, W.S., - - 1895
Thomas C. Balfour, - - 1896
John Oswald, - - - 1897
R. M. Pilkington, 1898 and 1899
J. H. Smith, - - - 1900
Rev. C. Durward, D.D., - 1901
W. H. Cook, C.A., 1902 and 1903
John Adamson, 1904 and 1905
AROUND THE PARISH.
LEVEN THISTLE CLUB.
The Thistle Golf Club was formed in 1868, just a year
after the Innerleven Club took up its abode on the banks
of the Scoonie burn. The artisans of Leven had played
golf between Scoonie and the " Mile Dyke " long before
Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd, Captain, Thistle Golf Club.
1868, but this was really the first attempt to form a club
which was to maintain the same relation to the Innerleven
as the St Andrews bears to the Royal and Ancient. The
membership for the first year was as small as the humble
104 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMVSS.
coin which constituted membership, but shopkeepers and
artisans soon crowded into the Club, and the record of the
Thistle is one of uninterrupted progress. To-day there are
upwards of 600 names on the books. For a good many
years the Club was without " house or hall,'' but ultimately
a step in the right direction was taken by the acquisition
of a wooden clubhouse, the renting of a building came
next, and then came the purchase of the Innerleven old
house, and afterwards the extension of the building. The
old building and the extension cost 2500. The Club is as
wealthy in trophies as it is in excellent exponents of the
game of golf. Among the trophies are the Campbell
Medal, the Reid Trophy, the Porter Medal, the Findlay
Shield, the Gilmour Jug, and the Baird Cup. The prizes
are contested for by large fields of competitors, and year
by year the standard of play is raised to a point which
charms the most exacting. The Baird Cup is the club
championship trophy, and its winner has to cany out
success by the double test of score and match play. There
are many excellent exponents of the game in the club, and
the management can put a team in the field any day which
is difficult to beat. The match playing members have
gathered numerous honours for the club, and the "Evening
Times" Shield has three times adorned the walls of the
Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd was appointed Captain of the
Thistle in 1904. Mr Shepherd learned his golf on the
Mortonhall course, near Edinburgh. He joined his brother
in business in Leven six years ago, arid is as popular
among the members of the Innerleven as he is in the
Thistle. Mr J. Henderson succeeded Mr J. T. Ireland as
secretary in January 1904. Mr Ireland was secretary for
the Thistle for twenty years, and there is not a golfer in
AROUND THE PARISH.
the " Kingdom " who would grudge him liberal acknow-
ledgment for the good work he did in connection with the
game at a time when it was not so popular as it is at
present. The Thistle is positively a model club for artisans
among the clubs of Scotland, and the position it occupies
rir J. T. Ireland, for 20 Years Secretary, Thistle Golf Club.
to-day is in a large degree attributable to the good work
done during the past quarter of a century by Mr Ireland
and other officials. Mr Henderson makes a worthy suc-
cessor to Mr Ireland. It is a pleasure to notice the quiet
and unostentatious way he does his work. He is a native
106 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of Leven and learned his golf on the links of the burgh,
Mr James Neaves is the treasurer. He has filled the post
with marked ability for ten years, and is ranked among
the best players of the Club. The following is a complete
list of the Captains of the Club since the date of its
Alex. Grandison. David Davidson. J. C. Holland.
D. M. Stewart.
J. O. Shepherd.
The three Clubs, the Innerleveu, the Thistle, and
Lundin Links, are responsible for the upkeep of the course,
which is leased from Sir John Gilmour, Bart., and Mr R.
Maitland Christie of Durie. Mr John Hunter, Edin-
burgh, is Captain of the Luudin Links Club, and Mr
Thomas Nicol fulfils the duties of Secretary.
Young players may be pleased to have the names of
the respective holes :
1. The Table. 7. North Sunnybraes. 13. Sea.
2. The Howe. 8. Station. 14. Silverburn.
3. The South Seg. 9. Lundin. 15. North Seg.
4. The Dyke. 10. High Hole. 16. Dyke Neuk.
5. The Signal. 11. South Sunnybraes. 17. The Railway.
6. The Knox. 12. The Trows. 18. Scoonie.
ON THE COURSE IN 1650.
As the thousands who annually disport themselves on
the links are rightly thinking more of golf than of events
connected with the distant past, one may be pardoned
recalling that in February 1651 Charles II. appeared on
the links in holiday humour, if not to follow the cleek and
the ball, to " ride at the glove." James VI. and Charles I.
AROUND THE PARISH. 107
learned their golf at Dunfermline, on a stretch of ground
to the north of the ancient city boundary. In the autumn
of 1650 Charles subscribed the " Dunfermline Declara-
tion," in presence of the Earl of Wemyss and others, but
he had little intention of abiding by the Declaration. War
broke out, and on 1st January 1651 Charles was crowned
at Scone. Shortly afterwards he made a pilgrimage
through Fife with a view to inspect the fortifications of
the Forth. He was at Burntisland on 12th February, and
on the 13th he was the guest of the Earl of Wemyss at
Wemyss Castle. Here is an entry from Lament's diary :
" 1651, Feb. 13. While the King's Majest. lodged att the place
of the Weyms, the Lairds of Auchmoutie and Kincraigie were both
knighted. Upon the morowe after, as he came alonge the coast, he
knighted Collonell Scott, in Leven sands, upon the head of his
owiie regiment of horse, with his Louet. -Collonell also, both att one
In another entry Lamont tells us that the King " came
alonge the coast by Levin, Largo, and Ellie, and lodged
att the Laird of Enster's house all night ; the 15th and
16th, being Saturday and Sunday, with the E. Crawfoord
LEVEN LADIES' CLUB.
The Leven Ladies' Golf Club is one. of the few ladies'
clubs in the country which can boast of an eighteen hole
course. The course is nicely laid out and affords good
sport. The Club was formed in August 1891, and the
course was opened in June 1892. The clubhouse is a
modest one, but a new house, of which a sketch is given,
is being erected (1905) Mr A. C. Dewar, Leven, is the
architect. Mrs Anderson of Norton was the first presi-
dent. In 1893 Mrs Christie of Durie was elected presi-
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
dent, and the vice-president's chair was taken by Mrs
Anderson. Since Mrs Anderson retired, the duties of
vice-president have been fulfilled in turn by Mrs Crole, Mr
T. C. Balfour, Dr Crole, and Mr Geo. Donaldson. Miss
Marjory P. Wilkie, who is an excellent exponent of the
game of golf, has been secretary of the Club from the date
of its inception.
Leven Ladies' Golf Club House.
THE LEVEN CLUB.
Assuming that the Iiinerleven and the Thistle Golf
Clubs met all the requirements, the Leven Club was
allowed to lapse in 1884. The Club was instituted in
1846 or 1817. According to the records, the Club was
formed on 22nd April 1846, but Mr W. Dalrymple, who
made a careful search, tells us that the original silver medal
presented by Mr Matthew Elder bears the inscription:
" Leven Golf Club, instituted 20th March 1847." At the
AROUND THE] PARISH. 109
formation of the Club the entry-money was the modest
sum of one shilling and j, the* green money was fixed at
threepence. Tn *1849 the^ entry-money was'^raised to
2s 6d; in 1850, to 3s 6d ; in 1851, to 5s; in 1868, to
10s 6d ; and by 1857 the green money had been raised
from threepence to sixpenee.^The record of charges here
presented does not imply a tendency to extravagance in
the management of the Club.^It rather suggests stages of
progress and development. When the Club was instituted
the members in their spare hours pulled the bent and
made the greens between Scoonie and the Mile Dyke ; but
as time went on, and the members gained proficiency in
the game, the demand arose for better greens, and men
were employed to do the work. Mr Matthew Elder was a
great friend of the Club. He was the owner of 'a washing
house on the banks of the Scoonie burn, and in 1853 he
gave the Club the use of the " hall " for a year free as a
clubhouse. Between 1850 and 1870 the Leven Club
frequently played St Andrews, Edinburgh, Crail, Elie, and
the Wemyss Clubs, and now and again ' convival meet-
ings '' were held after the supremacy on the greens had
been decided by the competitions. There is a breezy pic-
nic feeling about the following entry in the old minute
"August 4th, 1858. Agreeable to previous arrangements, a
goodly muster of the L.G.C. met at 4 P one at the west end of
Leven Bridge to-day, and by the kindness of Messrs Brown and
Wilson were conveyed by carts to Wemyss, where on our arrival
we found the Wemyss Golf Club ready to receive us, and on
making such arrangements as was necessnry, eight couple started
with willing hearts and ready hands to a glorious game at their
After the first round the weather broke down, the
game was given up, and the players adjourned to Cairns'
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Inn, where a "repast" was provided. Toasts were given and
songs rendered, and, despite the deluge of rain, the Leven
players arrived in the evening at their respective homes on
the banks of the Leven and Scoonie "as safe and as
happy as when they left." In Nov. 1856 it was decided to
" employ two men and a cart to clear and level the rough
places on the links, particularly the putting greens," and
in 1857 a movement was set on foot to construct bunkers.
Little progress was made with the construction of hazards
until 1865 6, when the Club had the assistance of Tom
Morris. The course was extended in 1868 to one of 18
holes. The competition of 1869 took place on the ex-
tended course, and it was then agreed that all club
matches be played on " the extended course."
The following is a complete list of the names of the
Cnptains of the Club from the day of its inception until
the date of the closing year :
1847 Thomas Home, baker.
1848 Robert Smith, draper.
1849 Matthew Elder.
1850 Peter Keddie, saddler.
1851 Robert Bruce.
1852 John Henderson.
1853 David Malcolm.
1854 John Davidson.
1855 John Patrick.
1856 David Marshall.
1857 W. Henderson.
1858 R. Brown, smith.
1859 John Patrick.
1860 Jas. Brown, brewer.
1861 Robert Bruce.
1862 David Marshall.
1863 Dr Kennedy.
1865 A. Wilkie, banker.
H. Thomas Peter.
J. Anderson, jun., Norton
I). Russell, Silverburn.
James Anderson, jun.
G. Wilkie, builder.
ABOUND THE PARISH.
THE LUNDIN CLUB.
The old Lundin Golf Club was founded on 8th May
1868. Mr Rintoul of Lahill was the first Captain, and Mr
B. Philp was appointed Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.
On 13th June of the same year the rules of the Leven
Club were adopted, and the Innerleven Club offered prizes
to be competed for over the New Lundin Links only. At
this time the Lundin Links end of the course was very
rough, and the Innerleven hit upon the device of offering
special prizes to the votaries of the game in Largo and
Lundin Golf Club House.
Lundin in the hope of inducing the play which would
bring improvement. The Club had a hum-drum existence
for nine years, and it dropped quietly out of sight in 1877.
The Club of to-day sprang into existence in 1899, and its
record has been one of abounding prosperity.
Some Club Makers.
In the minutes of the Leven Club there is an entry
from which it appears that in 1855 instructions were given
to Mr Patrick, the clubmaker, to make and forward to St
Andrews Club two clubs for competition, " as a testimony
112 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of that respect we entertain for them." 1855 was the year
John Patrick was Captain of the Leven Club. He was a
cabinetmaker to trade and began clubmaking about 1847.
His son, Alex. Patrick, left school and commenced work
with his father in 1857. On the death of his father in
1866 he succeeded to the business, and at once began to
make clubmaking a special feature. Meantime Mr Mat-
thew Elder had converted the old washing-house of the
bleaching-green on the banks of Scoonie burn into a club-
house. The Leven and Innerleven Clubs took possession
of the upper flats as clubhouses and Mr Patrick took pos-
session of the ground floor as a shop and workshop. Since
this date the Patrick family have made clubs to golfers
throughout the golfing world, Mr Alexander Patrick's
" specials " are well known in this and other countries, and
his brother, Mr D. M. Patrick, who is located at Lundin
Links, has also a world-wide reputation. Mr George
Nicoll has made golring irons since 1881. He is the maker
of the famous ''Tail" cleek a cleek which has been
adopted by the best golfers in the country and he is now-
making a special feature of the " sheradising," which
practically does away with iron cleaning.
Leven Bowling Club.
Leven Bowling Club was formed in 1859, but August
1866 had come before the club found themselves in a posi-
tion to open the green on the banks of the Scoonie Burn.
A. M'Lellan was the secretary in 1866. The post has
been filled as follows since 1866 : F. T. Wallace, from
1867 to 1870; C. Adamson, 1871 to 1874 ; F. T. Wallace,
1875; George Irons, 1876 and 1877; John Brown, 1878
to 1884 ; James Garrow, 1885 ; James Williamson, 1886 ;
William Ballingall, 1887 to 1902; James R. Duthie, 1893
AROUND THE PARISH.
and 1894; J. W. Home, 1895 to 1905. Mr Home has
thus filled the position for ten years, creating a record for
term of service.
The following is a list of the names of the presidents from
the opening of the green to the present day :
1866, Robert Smith. 1880, Capt. Lawson. 1894, John Wilkie.
1881, P. Campbell.
1882, John Stuart.
1883, C. Adamson.
1884, James Elder.
1885, Thos. Porter.
1886, W. Campbell.
1887, John Brown.
1888, A. Dryburgh.
1889, Ar. Dryburgh.
1890, Geo. Meikle.
1891, W. Ballingall.
1868, John Meikle.
1869, Robert Bruce
1870, And. Wilkie.
1871, Geo. Wilkie.
1872, J. Davidson.
1873, James Brown.
1874, Wai. Ireland.
1876, James Nairn.
1877, Mat. Elder.
1895, James Waddell.
1896, John Finlayson.
1897, Wm. Wilson.
1898, James Peattie.
1899, A. Walker.
1901, J. W. Home.
1902, A. M'Ruvie.
1903, W. Rollo.
1904, J. W T att.
1905, J. Somerville.
1878, And. Webster. 1892, Geo. Blackie.
1879, D. Pattison. 1893, J. Robertson.
Education in the Parish.
The Rev. David Swan, the minister of the parish,
writing in 1791, says :
" There is one established grammar school in the parish. The
master, who is fully qualified for his office, teaches English, Latin,
Greek, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, the practical parts of
mathematics, and navigation. There is a commodious school and !
schoolhouse, furnished by the heritors. The salary is 200 Scotch,
and with the other emoluments may amount to 40 sterling a year.
There are besides two or three small schools, in which young
children are taught to read English at the very easy rate of one
penny per week."
We find that the commercial side was not ignored by
the old Scoonie dominie whose emoluments for teaching
and for acting as parish clerk amounted to 40 a year.
The pupils had a choice of book-keeping, of the practical
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Bird's Eye View of Leven.
By permission of Mr A. llotjtj, Chemist.
Leven High Street.
AROUND THE PARISH. 115
parts of mathematics, and navigation. At that time
Leven could boast of six trading vessels of from 90 to 150
tons burthen, and this little fleet required masters to take
them to Holland and for the east sea trade, and it is
interesting to find that the masters were trained in Leven.
Writing in 1836, the Rev. Dr Brewster gives us a
glimpse at the schools of his day. An average of about
380 pupils attended the different schools, and Dr Brewster
S:iys : -" I am not aware of any individual above six years
of age being altogether unable to read, except two, and
they are imbeciles." Dr Brewster tells us that in addi-
tion to the usual branches, " Greek, Latin, French, and
mathematics are taught " at the parish school, and he adds
that " there is also a female school, where the more orna-
mental branches of education are taught."
In 1873, when the School Board of Scooriie was called
into existence, the Board found that out of a population of
1748 they had to provide accommodation for from 500 to
600 children. The old parish school and the Free Church
school were taken over by the Board. The parish school
is now a dwelling-house, and the new school, the Free
Church school, and the building at Smithygreen, on the
northern fringes of the parish, provide accommodation for
1350 pupils. A secondary department has been opened
in Leven school, and in the secondary department and
the evening classes every attention is given to the
commercial side of education. Mr J. A. M'Innes was
appointed headmaster in January 1892, and Miss M. P.
Wilkie took up duty as headmistress in 1896. Miss
Ferrier took charge of Smithygreen school in 1891. The
Board's first meeting was held in March 1873, and the
following are the names of the respective chairmen :
116 RAMBLES IN SCOONIK AND WEMYSS.
James Anderson, 1873 to 1879 ; Dr Lyall, 1879 to 1882 ;
R. M. Christie of Dune, 1882 to 1888; John White,
1888 to 1891 and 1900 to 1903 ; Rev. C. Durward, 1891
to 1894; Alex. Gumming, 1894 to 1897; Dr Balfour
Graham, 1897 to 1900; Edward Hill, 1903, and continues
in office. Mr C. J. Ogilvy has been Clerk to the Board
since March 1883.
Ex-Provost White, Leven.
Montrave, Aithernie, and Kilmux.
Montrave and Aithernie are situated on the northern
borders of the parish of Scoonie, arid both estates belong
to Sir John Gilmour, Bart. In 1160 the lands of
AROUND THE PARISH. 117
Montrave and Aithernie were granted to the nuns of
North Berwick by Duncan, Earl of Fife. After the nuns
ceased to hold Montrave, it seems to have fallen into the
hands of a proprietor who held the estates adjoining, and
for a long series of years the name disappears from the
public records. The old mansion house was built by
Major Alexander Anderson, a soldier who served with
distinction in the Mahratta war. On succeeding to the
estate, he returned to Fife, and spent the remainder of his
life at Montrave. He carried out extensive improvements
on his possessions, and took a great interest in matters
affecting the county. Major Anderson died on 25th June
1855, and his remains found a last resting place in Scoonie
Cemetery. A mural monument marks the spot of
burial. The tablet bears the following inscription :
"To the memory of Major Alexander Anderson of Montrave,
Madras Engineers, who died 25th June 1855, aged 61 years."
Captain John Anderson, his son, who succeeded to the
estate, was an officer in the East India Company's service.
He fell at the siege of Lucknow in 1858, just three years
after he had succeeded to Montrave, and the property was
afterwards acquired by Mr Douglas Dick of Pitkerri,
Forfarshire. The estate of Lundiu was acquired by Mr
Allan Gilmour, who was a leading shipowner in Glasgow,
in 1872, and in the following year he purchased the
adjoining property of Montrave. Mr Giluiour died in
1884, and was succeeded by his son, the present pro-
prietor. In 1886 and 1887 Montrave House was
practically rebuilt. The building is an imposing one, and
much artistic skill has been brought to bear upon the
work of laying out the grounds. A delightful carriage
drive, extending to upwards of a mile, approaches from
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the Leven side on the south to the elegant main entrance.
The house is lit by electricity, and in the evening the same
light is turned on in the offices and other buildings and
their approaches. Sir John Gilmour was born in 1845,
and was educated at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities.
Sir John Qilmour, Bart.
His Edinburgh career was followed up by a thorough
commercial training under his late father, and undoubtedly
it was the business habits which he learned in early life
which taught him to reduce method to an art and which
AROUND THE PARISH.
have made him a conspicuous success as a member of the
public boards of the county. He was returned as a mem-
ber of the Fife County Council iu 1889, on the Local
Government Act becoming law, and on Lord Elgin being
appointed Viceroy of India, Mr Grilmour was elected
chairman. The gifted Rev. Dr Thomson, the minister of
(Frmn a phuto by Lady QUmour).
Markinch, in his " General View of the Agriculture of the
County of Fife," published in 1800, says :
" The noblemen and gentlemen of Fife live on the most friendly
terms, and all County business is conducted with the greatest
harmony and ease."
No man has done more to uphold the traditions of the
county as here set forth than the proprietor of Montrave, and
as Chairman of the County Council he added to his reputa-
120 KAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
tion as a man of business capacity and as a discreet
observer. In 1897, the jubilee year of Her late Majesty
Queen Victoria, Mr Gilmour had the honour of having a
baronetcy conferred upon him. As Commander, Sir John
has done splendid work among the Fife Light Horse. No
landlord in the " Kingdom " has given more attention to
agriculture than Sir John, and since 1892, when he
founded the Montrave stud of horses, he has been known
as one of the most successful breeders of Clydesdales in
Scotland. Sir John unsuccessfully contested East Fife as
a Conservative in 1885, and as an upholder of the Union
as against Irish Home Rule in 1892 and 1895.
From 1160 to 1588 the Nunnery of North Berwick
retained power over the lands of Aithernie. The Refor-
mation practically brought an end to the Church's owner-
ship, however, and on 20th March 1588 James VI.
granted a charter secularising the property. With the
consent of the prioress, Margaret Howe, the property was
conferred on Sir Alexander Howe of North Berwick.
Howe was a persona grata at the Court of James VI., and
on more than one occasion was sent to England as an ambas-
sador. He died without issue in 1G08. Aithernie was
afterwards held by the Rigg family for a considerable
time. In 1670 it passed into the hands of James Watson
of Downfield, the son of a Provost of St Andrews. Mr
Watson was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander
Watson, who married Margaret, daughter of David
Lindsay of Edzell, remembered in tradition as " The
proud Lady of Edzell." The author of the " Lives of the
Lindsays " tells a touching story of the " proud lady."
Her brother Dav id was as extravagant as his sister, and
in 1714 he parted with his estates. Now for the story :
AROUND THE PARISH. 121
" Years passed away, and the castle fell to ruin. The banner
rotted on the keep the roofs fell in the plesaunce became a
wilderness the summerhouse fell to decay the woods grew wild
and tangled the dogs died about the place, and the name of the
old proprietor was seldom mentioned, when a lady one day arrived
at Edzell in her own coach, and drove to the castle. She was tall
and beautiful, and dressed in deep mourning. When she came near
the ancient burying-place, she alighted and went into the chapel,
for it was then open ; the doors had been driven down, the stone
figures and carved work were all broken, and bones lay scattered
about. The poor lady went in, and sat down among it a' and wept
sore at the ruin of the house, and the fall of her family, for no one
doubted of her being one of them, though no one knew who she
was or where she came from. After a while she came out, and was
driven in the coach up to the castle ; she went through as much of
it as she could, for stairs had fallen down, and roofs had fallen in,
and in one room, in particular, she stayed a long while weeping
sadly. She said the place was very dear to her, though she had
now no right to it, and she carried some of the earth away with
her. This was Margaret of Edzell, the Lady of Aithernie."
While the Castle of Aithernie on the banks of Scooriie
burn was tottering to its fall, the pockets of the laird and
his "proud lady" became more and more empty, and they
both died, pathetically-touching, poverty-stricken figures.
Aithernie was acquired by Sir William Erskine of Torrie,
and in 1836 was inherited with Lundin by his grandson,
J. Erskine Wemyss of Wemyss. Aithernie and Lundin
are now the property of Sir John Gilmour. Aithernie has
not been occupied for nearly two centuries, and only a
fragment of the old keep now remains. The ruined castle
overlooks a pretty part of the glen. The glen has charms
for the general tripper as well as the antiquarian.
Kilmux lies in the north-west part of Scoonie parish.
Away back in the middle of the eighteenth century, when
the lands were included in the barony of Ballinbriech and
122 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the Earl of Rothes was the superior, the estate was
divided into two Easter and Wester Kilmux. In 1832
the two portions were united by Mr James Blyth Fernie,
who built the mansion house of to-day. Mr Fernie was
born in 1798, and was a leader of agricultural improve-
ments in the " Kingdom.'' In his hands Kilmux became a
model farm. His skill as an agriculturist was recognised
in a practical way by his being employed all over the
country 'in reference cases. Coal was first worked on the
estate about 1780. Mr Fernie did not l>y any means con-
fine his energies to agriculture. In 1835 he sunk a shaft
to a depth of 54 fathoms and struck seams of coal varying
in thickness from 6 inches to 5 feet 2 inches. In order to
drain the mine of water a steam engine of 47 horse-
power was erected a powerful pump for the times.
Little or no coal has been worked at Kilmux for the past
25 years. There is a good deal of coal in the district,
however, and some day in the not far distant future
Kilmux colliery may become the putting, restless work
which it was more than half a century ago under the
enterprising Mr Fernie. Mr Fernie died on 3rd April
1858. The present proprietor is Mr David Ritchie,
The Fife Coal Company's Works.
The Fife Coal Company, Limited, commenced opera-
tions on the Kinarchie Braes, overlooking the town of
Methil, in 1877. A lease of the Pirnie field, which had
been operated upon from 1867 by Messrs Meldrum &
Birnie, was also obtained. Two pits were at first sunk on
the field lying between Leven on the east and the Cross
Roads on the west, but ultimately a third shaft was put
down. Operations are continued in the old pit at Pirnie.
AROUND THE PARISH. 123
In 1884 the Wellsgrcen Dysart Main fields were taken,
and at Wellsgreen two shafts were put down. The fol-
lowing ' are the coals worked in the Leven and Pirnie
Wall Coal, 2 ft. 4 in 114 fathoms in depth.
Eight Feet Coal, 5 ft. 120
Six Feet Coal, 4 ft. 128 ,, ,,
Chemiss Splint Coal, 7 ft. 145 ,, ,,
Parrot Coal, 24ft. 200 ,, ,,.',
At Wellsgreen the Dysart Main and other seams have
been operated upon to a considerable extent. The Leven
colliery workings have extended to the chambers of the
old workings at Kirkland. The water has been drained
off the mines of more than a century ago, and the coal,
which was abandoned because of a breakdown in the
pumping machinery about 1780, is now being brought to
the surface and placed upon the market. The Fife Coal
Company was formed in 1872 with a comparatively small
capital. To-day it is one of the finest coal combinations in
the country. In addition to Leven, Pirnie, and Wells-
green the Company operates on fields at Cowdenbeath,
Kelty, Hill of Beath, Lochore, and Lumphinnans. The
Company's output in 1872 was 70,000 tons. In 1904 the
output was 2,648,563 tons. The Aitken pit at Kelty
contributed as much as 495,576 tons to this total. Out of
313 lawful working days coals were drawn at the pit for
302 days. This gives an average of fully 1640 tons a day.
There is nothing approaching such an output as this from
any one pit in Scotland. The seams dip to the east, and full};
a mile to the east of the Aitken pit is the Mary, which is
being sunk, and which will strike the Dunfermline splint
seam at a depth of 350 fathoms. The share capital of
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the Company is 831,250 in <! shares 280,000 in 5 per
cent, cumulative preference, and 551,250 in ordinary stock
the <! shares in July 1905 standing on the market at
Charles Carlow, Esq., J.P., flanaging Director, Fife Coal Co., Ld.
nearly 5 per share. Mr Thomas Aitken, who is well
known in commercial circles in Scotland, and who has
AROUND THE PARISH.
been a Director since its formation in 1872, is the Chair-
man of the Company, and Mr Charles Carlow is the
Managing Director. Mr Carlow was born in the village of
Methilhill, where he has founded reading and recreation
rooms. Mr Carlow is Deputy-Chairman of the North
British Railway Company, is a Director of the Royal
Bank, and holds a position on the Boards of other coal
and iron companies in Scotland. He is a Justice of
Peace for Fifeshire. Mr W. Walker is Secretary of the
Fife Coal Company ; Mr R. Gordon, Accountant ; and
Mr B. Sutherland, Cashier. Mr Henry Rowan holds
the position of General Manager, and Mr C. Augustus
Carlow is Assistant General Manager. The Leven and
Wellsgreen pits are under the immediate charge of Mr R.
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
THE delightfully situated estate of Wemyss, or Wemyss-
shire as it was anciently called, derives its name from
the caves which are found on the shore within its bounds,
the Celtic for cave being Uamh. The history of the
parish is practically the history of the " Kingdom " in-
deed the history of the Kingdom of Scotland. The caves
or Weems, with their rude sculpturings. take us back to
the period of the Roman invasion, perhaps further, while in
the history of the Wemyss Family we have, as Sir William
Fraser reminds us, one of the longest and purest of
Scottish pedigrees, going back for seven centuries. Many
members of the family held high office in the State in far-
off days, and in the archives of Wemyss Castle there are
documents which are of national as well as local interest.
From time immemorial coal has been worked in the
district, and the documents which have been preserved
bearing on the great mining industry for centuries are to
many as interesting as the papers which give us glimpses
at the politics and the government of other days.
The extreme length of the parish from south-west to
north-east is about 5| miles, while its breadth varies from
1 to 2 miles. In contradistinction to the sea-beach of
Scoonie, the beach is bold and rocky. The parish is
bounded on the east by Markinch and Scoonie, on the
north by Kennoway and Mark inch, arid on the west by
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
Dysart. The Government census returns only go back to
1801, but according to returns drawn up by Dr Webster there
were 3041 souls in the parish in 1755, and here is a fairly
accurate return which was compiled for the minister of
the parish in 1791 :
East and West Coaltown,
Totals in 1755,
In 1801 there were 3264 souls in the parish, and in
1811 there were 3691. The following are the returns
from 1821 :
W. Wemyss, -
Totals, - 4057 5001 5403 5047 6003 G400 7307 10534 15031
Since 1901 the village of Denbeath has sprung up, and
at East Wemyss and other places there has been a big
increa.se in the housing. In the spring of 1905 it was
computed that the population of the parish could not be
less than 18,000.
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
The Valuation of the Parish.
The following is a table showing the valuation of the
parish of Wernyss since 1855-6 :
1855-6, - 14,484 18 1885-6, - 34,328 7 4
During the decade between 1855 and 1865 the valuation
increased by 4733 5s 3d; between 1865 and 1875 the
increase was 8227 Is 5d; 1875 and 1885 it was 6883
4s 8d ; 1885 and 1895, 24,620 12s lOd ; and 1895 and
1904-5 the increase amounted to 43,172 3s lOd. This,
like the census returns of the parish, indicates abounding
The Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven.
The villages of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleven,
which lie on the shore between the river Leven and
Macduff's Castle, were formed into a Police Burgh in May
1891. On the date of the formation of the Burgh the
combined population of the three places was computed at
6000. During the decade which passed between 1891 and
1901 the population rose to 8000, and this figure did not
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 129
iclude the part of Buckhaven town which is beyond the
jurgh boundary, and in which 828 people were resident.
Fust after the taking of the census in 1901 the burgh
jundary was extended at Methil so as to include Methil
Jrae, and the change gave an addition of 600 people at
the town of Methil. The following are the names of the
Chief Magistrates, and the dates of their respective terms
of office : Wm. Bowman Simpson, June 1891 to March
1893 ; Wm. Greig, April 1893 to November 1895 ; Wm.
B. Gillespie, November 1895 to November 1901 ; Wm.
Greig, November 1901 to November 1904 ; R. G. E.
7 emyss, appointed November 1904, and continues in
office. Mr W. T. Ketchen, W.S., who is a native of Elie,
has been Town Clerk of the Burgh since the date of its
formation, while the duties of Treasurer are fulfilled by
Mr David Robb, solicitor.
Innerleven and Dubbieside.
Innerleven has changed its name nearly as often as it
has changed its industries. In some of the old Wemyss
titles it is called Caldcoits or Innerleven ; in others it is
referred to as Dubbieside ; and Lamont, in his " Chronicles
of Fife," gives us yet a fourth name when he tells us that
by the storm of November 1662, "a great pairt of my Lord
r emyss' harbory, that he was building bewest the Salt-
griene, was throwen down and spoilt." Of the four names,
Dubbieside is the one which students of place names delight
to hold by.
The name Dubbieside takes us back to the days when
the " Kingdom " was inhabited by a Celtic race, and when
its localities were known by Celtic names. Dubhagan, in
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Gaelic, means a dark, deep pool, and, as Taylor in his
"Historical Antiquities" reminds us, is truly descriptive
of the deep, dark water where the Leven and the Forth
meet, and which for centuries formed the ferry between
Dubbieside and the town of Leven. Dubham is another
Gaelic word which gives a further clue to the name.
Dubham means a hook, and here we have a word which
takes us back to the distant past when Dubbieside was a
fishing hamlet of a few huts. In early times, when
Markinch Priory was the dominating religious institution
of the parish of Markinch, the fish for the Priory were
drawn from Dubbieside. The small fishing hamlet thus
became thirled to Markinch, and it was only in 1891 that
Innerleven became disjoined from the parish of Markinch
and was thrown into the parish of Wemyss.
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 131
AN INCIDENT OP 1388.
Innerleven first comes into view historically in the days
of Sir John Wemyss of Reres and Wemyss, When Sir
John acquired the lands of Innerleven, he did so on terms
which cast some light on the customs of the times. In
1387 the lands of Innerleven belonged to Thomas of Inner-
leven. Thomas it appears had become impecunious, and
in October 1388 he, in presence of a notary and other
witnesses, admitted that he had given up his rights,
present and future, in Innerleven to Sir John Wemyss, for
assistance given and to be given, especially in recovering
the lands from the superiors for the use of Thomas. In
these days the Church was generally the superior of the
lands, and a pretty hard taskmaster the Church was, but it
appears the Earl of Fife and Monteith was superior of
Innerleven. In the " Wemyss Memorials," Sir William
Fraser tells us that Sir John became bound to labour
faithfully and diligently to recover the lands for the
benefit of Thomas within the next two years. On this
being done, Thomas became bound to resign the lands in
favour of Sir John, and failing that to pay the sum of 40
sterling with expenses. If Sir John failed to recover the
lands within the two years, he was to pay a sum to
Thomas. Sir John fulfilled his bargain to the letter, but
on appearing within the prescribed time with his notary
and demanding fulfilment of the agreement, Thomas took
up the position of the " dog in the manger " and refused to
carry out his part of the contract. A second endeavour
on the part of Sir John to get Thomas to complete an
honourable bargain was as fruitless as the first, and about
six and a half years expired before Innerleven really
became the property of Sir John Wemyss under a charter
132 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
from the Earl of Fife. The charter of Innerleven to Sir
John Wemyss also contained a grant of the Westhaugh
In the days of James VI., Sir John "Wemyss of that
ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss, who in 1609 married Dame
Jeane Gray, eldest daughter of Patrick Lord Gray, had a
new grant of the barony of Methil to him and his wife.
Besides the lands of Methil, this barony included the lands
of Hill and Pirny, the superiority of Caldcoits, the half of
Kilmux, and the office of Bailie of the river Leven, which
among other dues yielded to the holder every ninth
salmon caught in the stream, and entitled him to hold
courts, appoint inferior officers, and deal with delinquents.
The charter was granted by George Gledstanes, Arch-
bishop of St Andrews, in 1611, some six years before the
Laird of Wemyss was knighted by James VI., who in
1617 made a pilgrimage through Fife. The Laird of
Wemyss had a baronetcy conferred on him by Charles I.
in 1626, and in 1628 the King conferred on Sir John the
dignity and rank of a Lord of Parliament, by the title of
Lord Wemyss of Elcho. In the days when Lord Wemyss
was Bailie of the Leven, and could claim every ninth
salmon caught in the stream, the water was not disturbed
by either bleach works or distilleries, and the river abounded
in trout and salmon.
THE HANDLOOM AND RED ROOFS.
Dubbieside, like Methil, has seen a good many changes
during the past thirty-five years. A great many of the
houses where the click of the shuttle of the hand-loom was
in the olden time heard have given place to modern
dwellings, and the Caldcoits of other days is fast giving
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 133
place to the Innerleven of to-day. Here and there on the
beach and on the main street there are still a few examples
of the outside stairs and the red roofs of two hundred
years ago. One of the best examples of the seventeenth
century dwellings stands at the entrance from Leven to
Dubbieside. It is a long stretch of plain walls with
forestair, with the front turned westwards, and the gables
facing the south and the north. The date stone above the
door- way bears the figures 1671. Just beyond this is
Lawson's Square, which stands on the entrance to the
Steep Wynd, which took the name of the " Dead Wynd."
The Wynd was the highway to the Leven and Wemyss
road, and took its name of " Dead Wynd " because it was
the path along which the remains of residents were carried
to their " long home " at Methilmill.
George Outram, the talented author of " Legal and
other Lyrics," who frequently played golf at Dubbieside,
gives us the following glimpse of the village of 1850 :
" The foam-flakes flash, the black rocks scowl,
The sea-bird screams, the wild winds howl ;
A giant wave springs up on high
' One pull for God's sake ! ' is the cry :
If struck, we perish in the tide
If saved, we land at Dubbyside.
O Dubbyside ! our peril's past,
And bliss and thee are reached at last '
As sprang Leander to his bride,
Half-drowned, so we to Dubbyside.
What though we're drenched, we will be dried
Upon thy banks, sweet Dubbyside.
134 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Are we in heaven, or are we here,
Or in the moon, or Jupiter ?
These velvet links, o' golfers rife,
Are they in Paradise, or Fife ?
Am I alive, or am I dead,
Or am I not at Dubbyside !
Through Eden's groves there flowed a stream,
And there its very waters gleam
Its pebbly bed. its banks the same,
Unchanged in all except the name
Since Adam bathed in Leven tide,
And Eve reposed at Dubbyside !
And still it is a blissful spot,
Though Paradise is all forgot ;
The fairies shower their radiance here,
The rocks look bright, the dubs are clear ;
Deem not that bush the forest's pride
Remember you're at Dubbyside !
Is that an angel shining there,
Or sea-nymph with her flowing hair,
Or Neptune's pearl-embowered bride,
Kissing the foam -bells of the tide?
Tis neither angel, nymph, nor bride
Tis Podley Jess of Dubbyside ! "
History of the Church on the Links.
Although the golf links and the hand-loom weaving of
" sweet Dubbieside " have gone, the Dissenting Church
still remains. The early history of the little church
throws some light on the habits and character of the
people who lived on both sides of the river Leven from 50
to 200 years ago.
After the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine and his colleagues
met at Gairney Bridge in 1733 and took the step which
brought the Associate Church into existence, the Praying
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 135
Societies gradually cast in their lot with the Dissenting
Church. Some of the Dissenters who were connected with
the Praying Societies of Leven, Dubbieside, and Methil
joined the Secession in 1738. Others followed in 1739,
and in 1742 the Associates had a considerable accession to
their ranks. When the Dissenting residents on the banks
of the Leven first joined the Associate Church they cast in
their lot with an Abbotshall congregation, and even with
the accessions of 1739 and 1742 the disciples of the new.
sect found that they formed such a small company that
they did not dream of forming a Dissenting congregation
for the district. They retained their connection with
Abbotshall until 1744, when they joined the little church
at Ceres. When the Burghers oath of 1745 was imposed
by Parliament and the " breach " occurred in the Associate
Church, the church of Ceres went over to the Anti-Burgher
Synod, and most of the worshippers from Leven district
went with them. In 1769 the Dissenters thought they
were of sufficient strength to warrant them forming a
congregation, and they applied to the Synod for dis-
junction. On the plea that there was nothing to hinder
them finding their way to Ceres every Sunday, the request
was met by a negative. As a compromise, however, the
Rev. Thomas Bennet, the minister of Ceres church, who
was strongly opposed to the disjunction, was asked by the
Synod to conduct services in the Leven district at least
four times a year during the winter months.
WHEN A CONGREGATION WAS FORMED.
The Rev. Dr Mackelvie, the author of " Annals and
Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church," says :
"Matters continued in this state till 1793, when the mem-
136 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
bers of the congregation of Ceres resident in Leven, Largo,
and places adjacent were formed, under sanction of the
Presbytery, into a separate congregation." The Rev. Jas-
W. Drennan, one of the ministers of the Dubbieside
church, rightly doubts the accuracy of Mackelvie's date as
to the formation of a congregation. Under date 22nd
February 1788, Mr Drennan found the following minute
in the Manager's book: "The Session having met and
reckoned accounts and found to be in Thomas Kirk's hand
the sum of eleven shillings and elevenpence three farthings."
At a meeting held in 1789, the congregation was found to
be indebted to Thomas Kirk to the amount of 2s 7^d,
" sterling money, errors excepted." The Dubbieside
Session minutes only go back to 1828, but in a minute of
the Session of Ceres, dated 6th June 1793, we are told
that the names of 15 persons who desired to be disjoined
from Ceres and annexed to that of Dubbieside were
handed in, and the Session agreed to the request. Presby-
tery dues were also paid as far back as 1781, and so far as
can be gleaned from sidelights, one is justified in coming
to the conclusion that the Dubbieside congregation was
formed about 1780. For many years the pulpit was filled
by itinerant preachers. It was only in Ma}' 1796 that
the congregation met in Thomas Kirk's house and resolved
to subscribe what each one could give " to have the Gospel
in a fair way in this corner, and after subscribing, to
petition the Presbytery for moderation and to offer fifty
pounds of stiping every year." A call was given to the
Rev. John Macdonald, Ireland, and the congregation,
finding that their funds were " not strong," collected the
necessary funds privately for presenting the minister with
the customary " suit of clothes, hat, shoes, and stockings."
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 137
The ordination dinner was purveyed by John Beatson, in
the Methil, and here is a copy of the account :
David Christy, a chopin of gin and ten backes, 030
Mr Beatson's account for dinner, - - - 1 16 3
David Christy, for house room, - - - 010
Tent prepaired, - - - - - - 084
Instruments taken at the Presbytery, - - 030
To Mr Beatson's servant, trouble, - - - 010
Borrowed cash, 210
HOW THE FIRST CHURCH WAS BUILT.
Dr Mackelvie says the church was built in 1794 ; but
there is no mention of this in the accounts, although in
1797 we are told that a subscription was made in order to
put a "loft" in the church. From "Poems on Different
Subjects," by William Rankine, Leven, which was pub-
lished in 1812, we get some light on the building of the
church. Rankine opens with a pen and ink sketch of the
first minister, describes the building, and then the congre-
gation. He thus writes of the minister :
" Wi' solemn gloom his brow he deck't,
An' joined a pious, haly sect ;
An' now a flock was straying wide,
An' he was sent that flock to guide.
But how to get a house to hold them,
That he might weekly stand an' scold them,
Their want o' siller sair perplexed them,
An' night an' day wi' torment vexed them.
But what is't zeal cannot perform,
When splinder new, an' piping warm
A house which was the famed resort
For every kind o' jovial sport,
Hung round wi' dirty tousy pallets,
An' crammed wi' beggars' mealy wallets,
Of wham ilk night came here a score
To drink, an' fight, an' curse, an' roar.
138 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
How wond'rous now the alteration,
Purged clean o' a' sic consternation,
, That house were Clooty nightly ranted,
To sighing saints it's walls has granted ;
Where impious actions once abounded,
The strains o' Zion now are sounded ;
Where drunken discord shook the air,
The groans o' haly love are there."
The Rev. John Row, minister of the parish of Caruock,
near Dunfermline, was one of the originators of the open-
air Communion services which Burns gave the name of
" Holy Fairs." Row was an uncompromising opponent of
Episcopacy, and because of his non-conformity he was
" confyned to his own congregation " by the High Com-
mission of St Andrews. Row invited the ministers who
had been deprived of their livings to Carnock every year,
and people nocked to the gatherings which he organised
from all parts of the "Kingdom." The open-air Com-
munion services survived the deposition of the Bishops,
but the services fell sadly from their " original state," and
in 1785 they received a staggering blow from Burns in the
greatest of all his satires, " The Holy Fair." Mr Mac-
donald, the first minister of Dubbieside, was a believer in
the open-air services, and at the very time Burns' poem
was being recited in every town and village he instituted
the series of tent-meetings through which thousands of
people were for years brought together on the banks of
the Leven. Rankine tries to catch the spirit of Burns in
his reference to the open-air services. He says :
" His stipend was but very spare,
Nor had they means to mak' it rnair ;
To mak' amends an' do nae wrang,
His hoi}- fairs came thick and thrang,
Which made the lads an' lasses run
To shew their claes, an' taste the fun ;
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 139
An' gin sic days brought pleasant weather,
Platefu's o' bawbees he would gather ;
An' sometimes feeling fowk, wha kend him,
Wad hens, an' eggs, an' butter send him."
FROM THE MANAGERS' BOOK.
The Managers' book shows that the poverty of the con-
gregation did not keep them from doing princely acts.
Mr Macdonald had assistance at the Communion gather-
ings from many ministers outwith the district. The
ministers were put up at the " manse," and the congrega-
tion thoughtfully subscribed 4 towards Mr Macdonald's
household expenses. In 1778 four labourers were engaged
at the church for some days, and the following item shows
that the toilers were regaled with the nappie ales which
were so popular in far-off days : " To drinks for four men
severally employed, Is 7d." Mr Macdonald resigned in
1817, and went to Thurso. Two years elapsed before the
congregation was able to call the Rev. William Harper
from Kilmaurs. Mr Harper was ordained in April 1819.
He died on the 16th October 1853, in the 35th year of his
ministry. He was succeeded by the Rev. Andrew Nicol,
who had itinerated as a probationer for 40 years. Mr
Nicol was ordained on 13th February 1855, and demitted
his charge on account of age and infirmities on 24th Sep-
tember 1861. Successive calls were given to three minis-
ters, but they declined to go to I)ubbieside. The Rev.
Robert Fisher, from Perth, ultimately accepted, however,
and was ordained on 19th January 1864. The flock suf-
fered during the vacancy of three years, but despite this
and the fact that the handloom was vanishing away, Mr
Fisher took up work in the district with much pluck.
Before many years had expired he had a manse built, and
140 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
as soon as it was clear of debt he inaugurated a church
building scheme. The church, which was built on the site
of the old building and was opened in 1878, cost .1400.
Mr Fisher resigned in 1880, and was succeeded by the Rev.
James W. Drennan, M.Ai, who was ordained on 9th May
1882, and who died in 1901. The Rev. H. W. Cochran
came next, and after labouring in the district for two
years left for South Africa. The Rev. Robert Ingles, the
present incumbent, was ordained on 19th May 1904. Mr
Inglis studied in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Munich Uni-
versities. He is an M.A. of Glasgow.
When Mr Fisher left there was a debt of 400 on the
church. To the credit of the congregation the debt was
soon wiped off. In connection with the centenary celebra-
tions of 1893, a scheme of renovation was carried through,
and a debt of 400 incurred. Mr Ingles and his Session
have decided to make an effort to clear oft' this adverse
balance in the year of grace 1905.
THE SALT INDUSTRY.
The firm of R. & D. Gibb have established a saltwork
in Innerleven. It is the only remnant of the salt trade of
other days. The Messrs Gibb commenced work at Methil
in the seventies, but on the dock being extended they
built a new work at Innerleven and stopped operations at
THE SHIPPING PORT OF HETHIL.
Because of the changes brought about by a revival in
the raining industry, Methil at first sight looks a place of
yesterday. Yet the town has a history which goes back
for centuries. As far back as the twelfth century, in the
days of William the Lion, Michael of Methil and Wemyss,
we are told, nourished in the district. Since the days of
Michael, the Wernyss family have been closely identified
with Methil, and the successive branches of the family
have had a good deal to do with the industrial revivals
which at intervals have come to the district like a tidal
wave. The estate of Methil or Methkill a name derived
from the Culdee cell or church which stood on the slopes
of Methilinill was held by Michael under the bishops of
St Andrews. Michael was succeeded by Sir John of
Methil and Wemyss, and Sir James Fraser, in his ex-
haustive work, which bears the title of " Memorials of the
Family of Wemyss of Wemyss," tells us that the earliest
known date at which Sir John appears on record as Sir
John of Methil is the year 1212, when an important
decision was given by the Bishop of St Andrews in con-
nection with lands held by the Church between the burgh
of St Andrews and Boarhills. John of Methil witnessed
various charters of Malcolm, Earl of Fife, and he received
the rank of knighthood between 1231 and 1240. David
Wemyss, the son and heir of Sir John Wemyss of Reres
142 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
and Isabel Erskine, was often styed the lord or laird of
Methil, and he received a charter of the lands in 1424 to
himself and his wife on their marriage from Henry
Wardlaw, the Bishop of St Andrews. In 1575 John
Douglas, Archbishop of St Andrews, created the lands of
Methil into a barony called the Barony of Methil. Sir
John Weruyss of that ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss, who
succeeded to the estates in 1622, was the first to take up
the development of the minerals at Methil, and from his
time Methil figures very prominently in the papers of the
Sir John Wemyss had a strong scent for the treasures
which lay hidden under the surface. He engaged an
English boring engineer and had tests made in the hope of
discovering coals on the various estates which belonged to
the family of Wemyss. He was the first to discover coal
at Methil, and he had some of the seams opened up. In
the year before his death he wrote a document in which he
gave instructions to his son, Lord Elcho, how to work the
coalfields on the Wemyss estate. The Earl of Wemyss
was also an extensive salt manufacturer.
riethil as a Burgh of Barony.
In 1572 John Douglas, Archbishop of St Andrews,
created the lands of Methil, with its grain and "fuling"
mills, and mill lands, Hill and Pirny, the superiority of
Innerleven, and two parts of Little Kilmux, with the
office of bailie and keepership of the water of Leven, to
which was attached the duty of every ninth fish and other
fees, into the barony of Methil. David, second Earl of
Wemyss, attended the first Parliament of Charles II. in
1661, and in 1664 he was summoned, as a Commissioner,
by Archbishop Sharp to visit the University at St
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS.
Andrews. This was the beginning of a close friendship
between the Bishop and the Earl. The establishment of
Episcopacy was followed by the restoration of the Church
lands to the Bishops, and the Earl's barony of Methil once
more came under the superiority of the See of St Andrews.
The Earl maintained friendly relations with the Arch-
bishop, and he obtained the erection of Methil into a free
Methil from Bay view.
burgh of barony, with a weekly market on Wednesdays,
and two fairs in the year 22nd June and 27th December
and the feu-duty he then paid for the barony was 20s
Scots yearly. In 1665 the Earl raised the question of a
regrant of the lands to himself and his heirs. Mr Patrick
Scott of Langshaw, to whom the work of procuring the
necpssary documents was entrusted, had a difficulty in
getting the papers. In a letter to the Earl, Mr Scott
144 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
states that the Archbishop's chamberlain had told him that
there was more to be said than the payment of the " few-
dutie," " that lykewayis thair behoved to be wryt gevin be
your lordship for coalles yeerlie." The demand for coals
"stumbled" Mr Scott, and it also "stumbled" the Earl.
Despite this, the Earl sent the Archbishop a boatload of
coals on the 20th September 1665, and seven days there-
after the infeftment in the barony came. Earl David was
proud of the documents when they did come, and in
acknowledging their receipt he intimated to the Arch-
bishop that he would send him a boatload of coals yearly.
The Methil fairs began to be held in 1666, and the
Countess of "Wemyss had much interest in them. She
spent as much as 100 dollars on wares from the chapmen,
and a horse race was, according to the custom of the times,
inaugurated a saddle, a bonnet, and a pair of shoes being
the prizes. So that Methil might become a place worthy
of the title of a burgh of barony, he erected a cross. The
cross, we are told by Lament, was built " beyonde James
Lundy's howse in the linkes, not nire any howse, 5 steps
high rownd abowt, and in the middst of it a long piece of
wood standing up with a thane (vane) on itt, having Er.
D.W. and C.M.W. cutt on the iyron."
The Old Church of Methil.
On 6th September 1582, John Wemyss and his heirs
were appointed patrons of the rectory and vicarage of
the Parish Church of Methil. There is no trace whatever
of the church and rectory of these far-off days. When the
Methilmill cemetery was being extended some years ago,
the foundations of a building of considerable demensions
were laid bare in connection with some excavations, and
there can be no doubt that this was the site of the church,
THH PARISH OF WEMYSS. 141
which very possibly dated back to the days of David I.
In 1665, David the second Earl of Wemyss had some
correspondence with the Archbishop regarding the Kirk of
Methil. The Earl and his father had during the Pro-
testant wave which followed the Reformation cheerfully
given up their rights to the Kirk. The restoration of
Episcopacy resuscitated the old rights, and the church was
once more in the Earl's hands. In 1711, David third Earl
of Wemyss obtained a charter of r^grant of all his estates,
and the patronage of the church of Methil is mentioned
among the lands for which a new charter was granted.
Methil church from this date drops out of view historically,
and the old church in East Wemyss becomes the ecclesias-
tical centre for the parish.
The Great Earl David's Coal Works.
The first Earl of Wemyss was succeeded ly David the
second Earl, who to this day is spoken of as the " Great
Earl David." He carried out many improvements on his
lands, and launched many big coal and salt work schemes.
Earl David was not slow in taking the advice of his father
about the minerals, and shortly after his succession he
commenced an extraordinary scheme of development, for
the times, at Methil. The mines of those days were all
"in-going-eyes" run in from the sea shore or from the
sides of burns and rivers, so that the water might run
from the working faces to the " day " without the use of
machinery. Earl David found coal cropping out in the
glen of Denbeath, near Methil, and here he opened out
what afterwards became "The Happy Mine." In a
valuable MS. document which he left, written by his own
hand, the Earl tells us that he had struck as many as
seven seams of coal in the mine, while running through
142 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the rnetals for a distance of 600 fathoms. Writing in
1671, the Earl says:
"lam still working that level in stone with two men in it day
and night, except Sundays. I give them 10s Scots a day, their
bearers 4s Scots a day, the windles men get 6s Scots a day or night.
I sharp their picks and furnish their candles."
The mine was run through the strata all the way to
The First Harbour at Hethil.
Before he had proceeded to open up the " Happy
Mine," the Earl recognised that the development of the
minerals would be of little use without a harbour, and in
1660 he applied to the King for power to proceed with the
construction of a harbour. The royal sanction was duly
forthcoming, and the Earl writes : " The King God bless
him did give me a new gift to bould a herbure at Methill,
1660." In the ensuing summer, 1661, the Earl commenced
the work. Satisfactory progress was made for 18 months;
but in November 1662 a terrible set back was experienced
through a storm. Lamont thus chronicles the destruction
caused to the new harbour of Methil :
"A great part of my Lord Wemys new harboury, that he was
building be-west the Saltgreine, was throwen downe and spoilt ;
yea, some of the very foundation stones were turned up, so that
some did report that ten thousand markes wold hardly make up his
losse againe in it."
The devastation caused by the storm did not paralyse
the Earl of Wemyss. Within two years of the date of the
catastrophe the harbour was finished. The Earl thus
records in his diary the loading of the first boat at the
" I was one 6 September 1664, 54 yeirs of eaydge. One 15
September 1664, Andrew Thomsone in Leiuen did leade his botte
in the new herbure of Methill, with colles from the colic of Methill,
AROUND THE PARISH. 143
being 60 leades of colles, and he did tak them to Leith on 17 of
September 1664, which was the first botte that didleade with colles
att that herbure. The colls uas well loued att Leith, and since
thorrow all sea ports in Scotland. I sould them then att 5 li the 12
lodes and 2 sh. to the griue. I give 22d for uining them to the
coller, and 1 sh. 2d to the Caller (driver) of them from the colle
pitte to the herbure."
There was no end to the Earl's enterprise,^ and within
a year of the opening of the harbour he built two saltpans
at Methil. "With," we are told, "a new howse, high and
low, with divers rowms, att the said harbowr, the roof
being a plaitforme." So as to give greater facilities foc r
carting coals, a bridge was thrown across the Leven at
Bassmill. The Earl's expenditure on the harbour and
other works amounted to 100,000 Scots, and the follow-
ing entry in the diary is interesting, inasmuch as it gives
the detailed expenditure connected with the other works: :
I must tell you what thes works has beine to m^. since 2 May
1662, that I begoude the herbure or peire of Methill to this 2 Febr.
1677, being many yeirs. The stone herbure uas thrisse ouir
throwin or I gott itt to any perfectione, and it hes beine to me
40,000 lib Scotts to this day, 2 Feby. 1677 "Wes." Then the
mynd for to drye the 7 colles uas 30,000 lib ; then the boulding of
7 pans and ther patts 20,000 ; then the gritte doubell housse, and
the horsse work that uas 5 yeirs one colle att' the Hill of Methrlle
or the mynd was wrought, cost 10,000 lib " Wemyss."
The Earl left numerous documents behind him bearing
on the mineral resources and developments. A short time
before his death he " sett doune the trew conditions of all his
colles " in his diary, " so that his posteritie may know how
he left them." He says : " It is weil known that I leaue
them many good colles att West Wemyss, and also att
Methill, 7 ther; uhich colles serves the most part of Fife
144 RAMBLES I\ SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Glimpses at Coal Working in Eighteenth Century.
David third Earl of Wemyss succeeded to the estates
in 1705, and died in 1720. He was born in 1678. He
inherited all the enterprise of his grandfather.
In 1700, Andrew Mellville, M.D., offered to improve
the coal workings at Methil and Kirkland, and, as the
result of various meetings, Lord Elcho handed over the
control of the mining operations and the superintendence
of the transit of the coals to this medical man. On his
succession to the estates, however, his lordship once more
assumed the command of the coal workings and their
connections with the Methil harbour. Miners in those
days were slaves. They were adscripti yleba>,, or slaves of
the soil, and were liable to be sold with the colliery, or
handed over on loan by one coalmaster to another.
We have an illustration of the condition of the miners of
Wemyss in the days of Lord Elcho in a document which
lies in the Womyss charter chest. The document takes
the form of an acknowledgment by Mr Christopher Seton,
brother of the Earl of Winton, of having received on loan
from David Lord Elcho the persons of six colliers and
eleven bearers, all belonging to Lord Elcho, who were to
be employed at Tranent, at Lord Winton's colliery, so long
as Lord Elcho had no use for them in the parish of
Wemyss. Lord Winton obliged himself to re-deliver the
miners and bearers on demand. The document is dated
The system of lending miners was not by any
means confined to the Wemyss estate. In a Dunfermline
Corporation minute it is stated that the Earl of Rothes
sent a letter to the Town Council asking for the loan of
AROUND THE PAHISH. 145
two colliers, and the Council " warranted the Bailies to
lend to the Earl David Murgain and George Brown, upon
the Earl's bond to restore them upon demand without
expense. And in case Lady Pittencrief wants William
Watson, warrants the Bailies to lend Watson to her."
James fourth Earl of Wemj'ss did not take a pro-
minent part in the politics of the day ; but he took an
active oversight of his salt and coal workings. From
the voluminous correspondence which he leaves behind
him it appears that, although the salters and miners
were practically slaves, they could sometime^ give a good
deal of trouble. In a letter written from Norton,
Durham, to his factor, Lord Wemyss says :
" Since these tenants are so stubborn that they won't coall the
pans without their own price, I know no other way than first to
protest against them for damnadgos done me by their not working,
and then to cause Baily Malcolm hold a Court on Munday, and
any who stand indebted to me by the list, of rests to throw him in
prison untill he pay'd, and to break one of their tacks to deterr
them from doing so in the future. I think all the salt that's lost by
the pans not going should be stated to their account."
Further correspondence shows that when an arrest of
one of the salters was attempted, the officer was deforced.
The miners at the same time were giving trouble. In one
of his letters the Earl says :
" Don't forgett to write the name of the coallier and his wife
which run away from Methill a few days before I left home, and
desire William Forbes to search for them at Pinkie, and for Lindsay,
and gett them over."
It is impossible to say whether William Forbes was
successful in his quest for the collier and his wife arid
Lindsay ; but it is apparent from the correspondence which
follows that the Earl and his managers did not then set
146 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
over their labour troubles. About a year later he writes
as follows :
, " I do not see you had any occasion to delay requireing back
stragled ooalliers till you had advis'd with the commissioners, for
that was a strict charge given you to look after them, and in
consequence of the coall propritors meeting at Edinburgh ; there-
fore the moment a coallier leaves his work he ought to be sent after
immediately, otherwise it gives him time to get into England,
where he can never be recovered. And when the grieves don't
.represent this to you in time, they ought to suffer for it. Besides
the coalliers, their children should be all look't after and sett to
work below ground when capable, and not allowed to hirr'd cattle,
or go to service, as many of them have done, and I wish may not
be the case as yett. And if you see it for my benefitt, and that
there's work and room for more people below ground, why don't
you gett some of Balbirny's coalliers, who are now in different
parts of the country, and nobody's property. Pray are Alexander
Leslie's and Thomas Lumsden's children now working at the coall
In another letter written from Norton, Lord Wemyss
says, just as he was finishing his note, William Cairns, a
sailor, who lived at Campveer, brought him a present of
chocolate, and ask't the favour of credit for ten dozen
coalls. He is, the Earl proceeds, " Archibald Cairns,
Methlll coallier's son, and I suppose has elop't from the
works. However, as the lad has been long absent, I could
not discourage him by refusing his demand."
nethil Coals seized by Government.
In 1722, an incident occurred beyond the Isle of May
which brought a protest from the Earl of Wemyss, and
throws some light on the export trade then done in Methil
coals. A Dutch laden ship was seized by the Custom
House authorities, taken to Burntisland and detained.
The Earl wrote the Commissioners stating that in conse-
quence of a gift from the crown, granted as early as 1330,
AROUND THE PARISH. 147
"he had been in the possession of granting coquets,
searching all ships, and of ane exemption and freedom of
paying any duty upon coal from the harbour of Methil,"
and that as well before the Union as since that time. The
Earl also argued that the Treaty of Union accepted and
reserved all special rights of exemption enjoyed by persons
in either kingdom. The exemption enjoyed by the Earl
applied only to coal drawn from his own collieries, and no
claim had ever been set up for merchandise. The Earl's
arguments for a continuance of the exemption sound
extremely like the arguments used by coalmasters
to-day in connection with the coal tax. He stated
that he and his late father had expended large sums
of money in connection with their coal works, and had
entered into contracts with Dutch merchants, and had
worked out a considerable trade with other foreign ports.
Tf the privilege was to be infringed, the Dutch would be
driven to trade with other countries, and irretrievable
injury inflicted on the Wemyss coal trade. The trade, it
was further set forth, if once diverted would not easily be
recovered, " as by experience was found when ane inter-
ruption was made by the privateers on the coast during
the late war."
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
(By permiggitn <if Mcwx Huntinc iO Mitchell.)
AROUND THE PARISH. 149
Methil Dock of To-Day.
Robert Louis Stevenson writes somewhere of the
" flight of time and the succession of men." In the " flight
of time and succession of men," Methil has, seen a good
many changes. It is worthy of note that the biggest
change of all has been experienced during the past 35
years. Writing in 1789, the Rev. George Gibb says :
" A waggon way of two miles from the pits at Kirkland to
Methil has just been completed, and everything promises an ex-
tensive trade .... It would not be at all surprising to see in
a few years Methil rank among the first coal ports of Scotland."
Before Mr Gibb's notes had been put in print, oper-
ations had been entirely suspended at the Kirkland pits.
In 1803, the east pier at Methil was ruined by a strong
gale. In 1815, General Wemyss was fully alive to the
necessity for reconstruction, and he applied to the
Government for a loan of 5000 or a partial grant of
money towards the improvement of the harbour. In his
letter to the Government the General pointed out that the
harbour had been built by private enterprise one hundred
years previously, and while the Wemyss family derived no
revenue from the use of the harbour, the Government
drew custom-dues annually from tire port for salt alone
amounting to from 8,000 to 10,000. A direct negative
was returned to the appeal. The harbour remained in its
wrecked state until 1838, when -1,800 was spent on
repairs. At this time there was really little to justify a
big expenditure on the harbour. With the withdrawal of
the salt tax, the staple industry of Methil received a
terrible blow, and one by one the salt pans were stopped.
By 1830 there was left a range of buildings which only
depressed people who could look back on the days when
150 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the windmills and the seawater pumps of the pans were
in almost perpetual motion. At one time it looked as if
the fallen fortunes of the village were to be retrieved by
shipbuilding, and by the manufacture of oil ; but, alas !
neither industry stayed, and in the sixties the traffic at
Methil harbour consisted principally cf an occasional cargo
of parrot from the Methilhill district and the imports and
exports for the Kirkland spinning and linen manufacturing
In 1864, when Messrs Bowman & Company com-
menced operations at Muiredge Colliery, Methil was a
ramshackle place. The coals were at first driven in carts
from Muiredge pits to the harbour, and shipped in boats of
from 50 to 200 tons. The carts ultimately gave place to a
horse waggon-way from the pits through Muiredge den,
and when the output of coals had increased, horses gave
place to a locomotive. By 1880, the Fife Coal Company
were drawing a considerable output of coals from the
Leven pits, and with developments at Muiredge and Leveri
collieries, Methil changed rapidly crumbling walls and
red roofs and outside stairs disappeared at every turn.
Between 1870 and 1880 the coal output of Fife was
doubled, and being fully alive to the necessity for greater
facilities for shipping coals, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss of
Wemyss Castle resolved upon the construction of a dock
at Methil. In his scheme he had every encouragement
from the Fife Coal Company and Messrs Bowman it
Company, who guaranteed to ship a certain amount of coals
annually. Mr Wemyss only reached his majority in 1879,
but really before he'was of full age and legally entitled to
act for himself he had obtained the sanction of his curators
for the expenditure of 25,000 on the Thorn ton- Buck-
ABOUND THE PARISH. 151
haven Railway. This was followed by the purchase of the
Leven Dock at a cost of 12,000 and the launching of a
scheme for the construction of a dock at Methil involving
an expenditure of 100,000. In the days of Earl David,
Methil harbour was the best shipping port in the east of
Scotland. To-day, Methil Dock is the greatest coal
shipping port in this part of the country. History does
not content itself in bringing back the dignity which
Methil enjoyed as a port in the seventeenth century, but
it gives us a dock to-day which originated with a direct
descendant of the man who was in touch with Archbishop
Sharp ; and who sent the Archbishop " a few coalles, the
best that the coalle of Methil can afford," for his kind-
ness in confirming Earl David's right to " Methil toune
How much the Fife coalfields have made Methil dock
and Methil dock has made the Fife coalfields will be
apparent when it is stated that in 1877 ten years before
the dock was opened the mineral output of the county
was not more than one and a half million tons a year, and
there were not more than 6000 people employed in and
about the pits. Although trying trade times were ex-
perienced during the next decade, considerable develop-
ments were witnessed at several collieries, and in 1887 the
8500 people engaged at the pits produced 2,585,412 tons of
coal and other minerals. The wages of the miners of Scot-
land are based on the rates ruling in 1888 wages to this
day rise and fall on the 1888 basis. 1888 was one of the
most trying years experienced in modern mining for
masters and men, and wages fell to the low figure of 4s
per day. Coals would not sell at a price nearly equal to
that drawn by Earl David for the first cargo he shipped
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
from his new harbour at Methil 5 Scots for twelve loads
and the output of Fife, like the output of other coal
producing counties in Scotland, showed a shrinkage. The
minerals produced reached a total of 2,459,395 tons, a
decrease of 126,017 tons. This was a had start for the
Methil dock, but happily a change for the better came in
1889, and with the exception of 1894, when operations
were suspended at the pits of Scotland for seventeen long
weeks over a wages dispute, the record since then has been
one of uninterrupted progress.
In 1897 just a decade after the dock was opened
the output was 4,152,173 tons, and something like 12,000
people were employed. In 1904, when 18,424 people were
at work above and below ground, the record output was
touched of 6,586,154 tons. The following table shows the
coal shipments from Methil from the date the gates were
thrown open and the first steamer entered, and the coal
output for Fife for the same period :
Minors on strike for seventeen weeks.
AROUND THE PARISH.
There is an inner and an outer clock. The inner dock,
which covers an area of 4| acres, was acquired by the
North British Railway Company from Mr Wemyss. The
Company had riot had control of the undertaking for
many years when they came to the conclusion that a big
extension was necessary, and they forthwith set to work
and made the new or outer dock, which covers something
like 6| acres, and which was opened in 1897. At high
water in ordinary spring tides there is 27 feet of water on
the cill, and it is no uncommon thing to see from twenty
to thirty steamers of from 1000 to 4000 tons burthen, and
many small sailing vessels, in the docks and roads. Arm-
strong, Whitworth & Co.'s famous hydraulic hoists are in
operation on both docks, and it is nob unusual for as much
as 2,000 tons of coal to be handled at any of the six hoists
154 RAMBLES IN SCOON1E AND WEMYSS.
in operation within twenty-four hours. An effective
installation of the electric light pierces its way into every
corner of the docks, and coals are handled with as much
facility at midnight as they are in a noonday sun. The
empty waggons are whisked from the cages of the hoists on
to high-level runaway rails, and in time they reach the
respective sidings on what an employee at the dock
suggestively speaks of as " their own feet." There are
miles of sidings ; there are thousands of loaded and empty
waggons; and night and day we have the perpetual puff of
steam, and the sharp piercing whistle of locomotives. The
organisation is wonderful. What a striking contrast the
Methil of to-day presents to the old Burgh of Barony when
its cobble-stoned streets echoed and re-echoed to the feet of
Earl David of Wemyss, or the tumble-down, depressing
Methil of 45 years ago, wheiiuthe shipments consisted of a
" wee puckle parrot coal," and an occasional barrel of
herrings. The docks and their fixtures cost something
like half-a-million pounds sterling.
An Interesting Incident.
The Rev. Dr Harry Spens was minister of the parish of
Wemyss from 1744 to 1780, when he took up the
Professorship of Divinity in St Andrews. In 1770, during
his incumbency, a case was called in the Court of Session
which brought Methil prominently before the country. It
appears that a gentleman who had taken up residence in
Methil from the West Indies, had brought with him a
negro servant who had been his slave. During his
residence in Methil the slave embraced the Christian
religion, and on 10th September 1769 was publicly baptised
in the Parish Church of East Wemyss, taking the name of
David Spens. The action of the slave does not seem to
AROUND THE PARISH. 155
have had the approval of the West India merchant, and
he resolved to send him back to the West Indies, selling
him to another master. Spens was delighted with the
freedom he had had in the bracing village of Methil, and
having had an inkling of his master's intention, he left him,
and took up his abode with a farmer in Wemyss parish.
The desertion resulted in the master raising a process in
the Court of Session praying that Spens should be ordained
to return to his slavery, and against the farmer for advis-
ing the foreigner to desert, and for affording him protection.
What added importance to the action is the fact that it was
the first case raised in England or Scotland in which it
was judicially asserted that although slavery was allowed
to exist in the British colonies, a slave was free the instant
he set foot on British soil. In the parish a great amount
of interest was taken in the case, and a large sum of
money was raised to enable Spens to defend what were
considered to be his just rights and privileges as a British
subject. The case was enrolled for January 1770. Four
lawyers were engaged for the slave, and the case was
debated on 2nd February 1770. Memorials were ordered
to be given in by both parties, but before another stage
had been reached the master died and the case was dropped.
A most creditable feature in connection with the case is
the fact that the four advocates and solicitor who were
engaged for the defender refused to accept any fee for
their services. With the collapse of the case the slave
obtained his freedom, and he returned to the parish of
Wemyss to do good work for the kindly farmer who had
espoused his cause. The action of the miners and salters
and agricultural labourers in the parish of Wemyss in
subscribing for the defence of the slave must appear all the
156 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
more creditable when it is kept in mind that in 1770 the
miners and salters were- not far removed from serfdom.
What is known as the Emancipation Act was only passed
in 1774, and it was after all a half-hearted measure.
The preamble set out with the frank statement that
" Many colliers and coal-bearers and salters are in a state
of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries and salt
works where they work for life, transferable with the
collieries and salt works when their original masters have
no further use for them." The statute provided that after
1st July 1775 no person beginning to work as a collier,
coalbearer, or salter was to be bound in any other way
than other servants ; but boys and men who were engaged
at the mines or at salt works before the passing of the Act
were left as they were for a certain number of years.
Complete emancipation only came in 1799, and how much
the Act of 1774 failed of its purpose will be evident when it
is stated that the Act of 1799 opened with the words
" Many colliers arid coal-bearers still continue in a state of
The Salt Pans of the Olden Time.
At one time salt was a national industry in Scotland.
The principal seats of the industry were the shores of the
Firth of Forth the coal and the sea supplying the
necessary conditions for its manufacture. The southern
shores of the Forth, from Prestonpans to Portobello, were
studded with pans and bucket patts, and at Pittenweem
and St Monans, and from Leven to Kirkcaldy and from
Charleston to Kincardine on the north side, the collieries
and salt works were so numerous that they led James VI.
to compare the ancient " Kingdom " to " A beggar's mantle
with a fringe of gold." How much the coal industry
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 157
depended on the salt trade is brought out by an incident
which happened in the days of Charles I. Some stupid
people, who were evidently afraid that the salt trade would
lead to the early exhaustion of the coal supplies, presented
a petition to Charles praying that the export of Scotch
salt should be " limited to a small quantity, saleable
only to a few persons " The Magistrates of the city
of Edinburgh were wise in their day and generation and
inaugurated opposition to the proposal, with the result that
the Privy Council took up the matter, and in a letter
addressed the King as follows : " Without the benefit of
the salt these sumptuous water-works and mines required
for maintainance and winning of the coal cannot be upheld,
and which being forsaken but for a month the coal must
perish, never in any age to be regained." The Council,
says Mr Hume-Brown, also represented that half of the
shipping of the " kingdom " was employed in the export
of coal and salt, and they pleaded with Charles not to
strike a deadly blow at the " mutual freedom of trade "
which his father had maintained with "princely care."
Writing in 1662, Lament speaks of the " Saltgriene " of
Methil, and in the interesting MS. documents which he
left behind him David the second Earl of Wemyss tells us
that in 1665 two new saltpans were constructed, and at
the same time there was built " with them a new house,
high and low, with divers rowms at the harbowr, the
roofe being a plaitforme." In another note the Earl states
that the " seven pans and ther patts " at Methil cost
20,000 lib. Scots. The salt pans of Methil were ultimately
extended to nine, and how much they figured in the
industrial life of Methil will be apparent when it is stated
that in 1815, when General Wemyss applied to Govern-
158 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
ment for a grant of 5000 towards the improvement of
the harbour, he stated the Government drew annually
from 8000 to 10,000 as customs dues for salt alone.
With the withdrawal of the salt tax in 1825, and the
discovery of the rock salt mines in England, the whole
aspect of things soon became changed along the shores of
the Firth of Forth. Operations were suspended at work
after work, the waves were allowed to play at their own
" sweet will " in the bucket patts, and very many of the
pans and " salt-girnels," which had formed the storehouses
for the daily output of the once prosperous works, were
deserted and allowed to decay. Methil shared the same
fate as many of the burghs and villages on the banks of
The reports on the salt works by the ministers who
wrote on the parish in the " Old " and the " New Statistical
Accounts" present a striking contrast. Writing about
1790, the Rev. George Gibb says :
" There are nine salt works at Methil, and seven at West
Wemyss. These works have been long carried on, and much salt
is made at them both for land sale and exportation."
Writing in 1838, the Rev. John M'Lachlan says :
" At Methil, where there were formerly nine salt pans, there
are now none ; and at West Wemyss, where there were formerly
seven, there are only two, and at present one of them is not work-
ing. 6,200 bushels may be about the annual average of salt made
for the last three years, the average annual value of which may be
470. This forms at once a very striking contrast to the quantity
of salt made in this parish previous to the abolition of the salt
duties. In 1818, 1819, and 1820, the annual average sale of salt at
West Wemyss and Methil was 50,400 bushels. The salt made here
is excellent, and obtains a ready market. "
The salt made in the district had all the merits claimed
for it by Mr M'Lachlan, but it did not find a " ready
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 159
market " at the price it was possible to produce it for, and
hence it was that at the very time he was writing the old
Burgh of Barony was living on the memory of days when
it was a busy and thriving place, with whirling windmills,
smoking salt pans, and a busy harbour.
The Haunt of " Thrummy Cap."
The "Gritte Doubill Housse " which the Earl of
Wemyss built on the harbourhead had ceased to be the
"salt house" it had once been, and in Mr M'Laohlan's
days had become the haunt of " Thrummy Cap " Methil's
ghost the spirit of a Dutch wood contractor, who had
often journeyed with wood to Methil and who had failed
to get an account squared with one of his Fife patrons.
For many long years the spirit of the Dutch merchant
made periodical visits to the " Salt-Girnel " of Methil and
presented the unsettled account. The visits from the
unseen world have ceased. Some say that " Thrummy "
ultimately had the satisfaction of having his promissory
note met with golden guineas, but people who believe
in the spiritual dictum that we brought nothing into the
world and can take as little with us, do not hesitate to say
that the busy Methil port of to-day is not a place for
ghosts, and that when the first blast of a steamer's horn
was heard, the visitor from the dim beyond took his fare-
well. And so the present generation have as little dread
of " Thrummy Cap " as they have of Bailie Malcolm,
who in 1725 was called upon by the lord of the manor to
punish the salters who refused to " coall " the pans and to
lay by the heels the miners who attempted to run away.
Two Glimpses of Methil.
Barbieri, who visited Methil in 1856, says :
"It is an ancient and decayed place. It has a better harbour
160 RAMBLKS IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
on the Forth than any in the neighbourhood. Population, 530.
Many of its houses are in ruins, and its trade is nearly gone. It
seems to be the shrivelled up skeleton of a once important place."
Barbieri is brutally frank in his criticisms of the
manners, customs, and villages in Fife, and in his desire to
find fault he often overlooks redeeming features. He has
not a single word to say for the links and the game of
golf, and evidently failed to recognise that the people were
struggling to the best of their ability with an ebbing
industrial tide. The Rev. Peter M'Ainsh, who came to
Leven after the Disruption as the missionary under the late
Mr Forman, spent a good deal of time for several years
in Methil, and at a bazaar held two years ago, in con-
nection with Methil United Free Church, he gave us the
following glimpse at the village of fully half a century
" Fifty years had passed last May since he began his labours as
preacher in connection with Methil Mission. Fifty years were a
long look back, and the Methil of 1853 was very different from the
Methil of 1903. He could scarcely realise he was standing in
Methil. If time had permitted he would have told them some-
thing of the Methil of 1853 of its beautiful clean harbour ; of its
venerable buildings, many of them two storeys in height with out-
side stairs ; the frank furthy folks, with always a kindly welcome
to the minister ; of the beautiful links to the east and to the west,
and of the comfortable meeting-place, known as the ' Salt-ftirnel. '
Its floor was strewn with sawdust ; it had beautiful chandeliers ;
its pulpit was covered with blue cloth, fastened with brass nails,
and there were two rows of seats with backs. He gathered 7 for
those seats. They had forenoon and evening services and Sunday
school. People came from Leven, Dubbieside, Kirkland, and
Buckhaven to the evening meetings. The gatherings in the ' Salt-
Girnel'.were the origin of the Free Church, now the United Free
Church, of Methil."
The " Salt-Girnel," like " Thrummy," has vanished.
The dock and railway occupy the site of many of the two-
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 161
storeyed, red-roofed houses, the " Sandy Wynd " and
" Beatson's Close " are so very greatly changed that if
" Thrummy " were to come back to Methil he would lose
himself. The old dominies, Mr Boon and Mr Steven, can
only be spoken of by a few links with the past, and " The
Crown," where the nappie ale of old was kept, and the last
green at Jenny Nicol's well, where many a keen game of
golf was decided, are no longer with us. In this restless
age all is change. The Methil of to-day presents a striking
contrast to the Methil of 1860. It seems but yesterday
since Peter Ballingall and Peter Graham stood in the
" Sandy Wynd " and declared that the Wynd was hence-
forth to be known as Commercial Street. And Com-
mercial Street ib is. Short as the interval has been,
Methil has sprung from a mere village to a town of nearly
The Established Church
can scarcely be ranked among the modern buildings. As
far back as 1582, Sir John Wemyss was appointed patron
of the rectory and vicarage of Methil. Methil ultimately
dropped out of sight as an ecclesiastical station, and after
a hiatus of many years it again appears in the church
records of the district, through an appeal to the Kirkcaldy
Presbytery to erect a mission station in the village. A
local committee and the Presbytery took up the work with
zeal, and in 1838 a church was opened at a cost of 1200.
The foundation stone was laid in June 1837. At first it
was difficult to get probationers to go and labour in
Methil, and as the result there were a good many holidays.
In 1840, however, Mr John Wilson took up duty as a
missionary, and was succeeded by Mr James Duff. Mr
Duff was succeeded in 1857 by Mr James Morrison,
162 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
through whose labours in 1876 the church was raised to
the dignity of a quoad sacra. On the death of Mr Morrison,
the Rev. A. Aytoun Young was called to the charge. On
Mr Young's departure to Clunie, Perthshire, in 1891, Mr
Thomas Muir, the present incumbent, was called to Methil.
Mr Muir was educated at Glasgow University, graduating
The United Free Church.
As far back as 1850, services wei-e now and again con-
ducted in the " Salt-Girnel " at Methil by Free Church
students. In 1882, when the place showed signs of
permanent growth, Mr Robertson, now Dr Robertson
of the City Temple, London, took up regular work in
the district. Other students followed, and in 1892
Methil was conceded the status of a mission station. Mr
R. Francis took charge of the station, and within two
years the station was erected into a regular charge. The
church was built in 1890, at a cost of 700, and
in 1902-3 an extension was made at a cost of fully 800.
Mr Francis was educated at Glasgow University.
The Seamen's Institutes.
If there are any buildings in the town which strike one
more than others, these are the German Mission station in
Durie Street, and the Scottish Coast Mission's " Seamen's
Bethel " in Dock Street. On Methil giving promise of
being a place which would be visited annually by many
German seamen, a missionary began to make periodical
visits from Leith. In 1898, the heads of the German
Church in Edinburgh and Leith arranged for a missionary,
and Herr Voss was accordingly sent to the " Kingdom."
In May 1900, the building which bears the inscription
" Deutches Seemanshaus " was opened at a cost of 750
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 163
It is now upwards of eleven years since the Scottish
Coast Mission commenced services among the seamen at
Methil. A building fund was inaugurated three years
ago, with the result that the Bethel was opened in
September 1904, at a cost of fully 800. Mr Boyd, who
has charge of the Mission under the auspices of the
parent society, has been fully six years in Methil.
Pastor Storen, Leith Norwegian missionary, pays fre-
quent visits to Methil, and conducts services in the Bethel
in Dock Street among sailors hailing from " The Land of
the Midnight Sun."
The Methil Engineering Company, Limited, was
formed in the beginning of 1900, and in May of that year
they commenced operations in the spacious works which
run along High Street and Wemyss Place. The Company
employ from 15 to 20 hands, and make a specialty of
steam winches and ship repairing. Mr Chas. A. Jackson
is the general manager of the concern. Messrs Buchan &
Duncan, engineers and shipwrights, first commenced work
in the saltworks to the west of the dock. The works they
now occupy overlook the dock, and were built in 1902.
Mr Donald Rose's steam joinery is one of the best
appointed works in the country. House building is the
trade he has concentrated his energies upon since he com-
menced business in 1891.
The village of Methilhill is situated on the top of the
hill beyond the town of Methil, and it was undoubtedly
the situation which crave rise to the name. Writing in
164 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
1677, Earl David of Wemyss writes of the hamlet which
then rested ou the " Hill of Methille," where the " Mhynd
was wrought costing 10,000 lib." The present pit at
Methilhill dates back to 1869, when it was in the hands of
Mr Binney, with the late Mr J. W. Kirkby as manager.
In 1878 the Pirnie field was taken over by the Fife Coal
Company. Since the opening of the pit, parrot coal has
been the principal mineral gotten, but now the Bowhouse
seam is being worked. Parrot coal was worked at Methil-
hill long before 1868, and some of the houses date back
for centuries. It was one of the older houses which Mr
Charles Carlow, the managing director of the Fife Coal
Co., in 1902 transformed into an Institute as a memorial
of his late father and mother, who were natives of the
parish of Wemyss. Reading and recreation rooms are
provided in the building.
The village of Kirklancl is situated on the banks of the
Leven, about a mile to the north of Methil. There is no
village in the neighbourhood which has seen more industrial
changes. In the sixteenth, the seventeenth, and the
closing days of the eighteenth centuries, the rattle of the
pit machinery common to early times provided an accom-
paniment to the noise which came from the rush of the
River Leven ; as time went on the pits were stopped, and
instead of mining, the staple industry of the village became
that of linen manufacturing, flax spinning, and bleaching.
Time came when the rattle of the power-loom became as
silent as the hand-loom, spinning and bleaching ceased, and
THE PARISH OP VVEMYSS. 165
the residents of the "New Toun" as well as the "Auld
Toun " were forced to look mournfully on the past, and to
sigh for another change in the industrial kaleidoscope.
Just at the time when it appeared as if the "New
Toun " was to be surrounded by depressing and decaying
buildings, the Cyanide Company appeared upon the scene,
and one of the finest works for the manufacture of cyanide
in the country was built in the nineties.
Early Coal Workings.
In the inventory of the title-deeds of the Family of
Wemyss there is a charter, dated 2nd November 1542, by
David, Archbishop of St Andrews, in favour of David
Wemyss of Wemyss, in which reference is made to the corn
and wauk mills of Methil. Another charter by George,
Archbishop of St Andrews, dated 7th November 1611,
specifies not only the corn and the wauk mills of Methil,
but the coals and coal-heughs of the Kirklands of Methil.
These charters prove the existence of corn and other mills
as far back as 1542, and the existence of coal workings in
1611. The upper seam of coal is at least 20 fathoms be-
low the surface and the water level at Kirkland. This
precludes the idea of coal-getting by the day-level system,
and drives one to the conclusion that as far back as the
days of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss coal must have been
gotten by machinery on the banks of the Leven. In 1612,
when it seemed as if the days of the coalfields of Scotland
were numbered, because of the absence of a system of drain-
age, Sir George Bruce, the captain of Culross industries,
hit upon the idea of draining Culross mines by pumps
worked upon the chain and bucket system or the Egyptian
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
The Wemyss Family seem to have adopted the same
system at Kirkland. The "Happy Mine" which Earl
David of Wemyss ran from Denbeath to a point near
Kirkland, and in which he had discovered seven seams of
coal, by 1671 got completely beyond the water level and
had to be stopped. At Kirkland the pit workers of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries must have been in-
dependent of the water levels through which the mines
Chain and Buckets.
were drained into the sea or the burns In the year 1700,
David third Earl of Wemyss, then Lord Elcho, handed
over the coal workings of Kirkland to Dr Andrew
Mellville. who offered to effect great improvements. In
1705 Lord Elcho resumed the management of the mines,
Dr Mellville retiring on a pension and the " use of the new
house built at Kirkland." The old crow-stepped house still
stands in the village.
In the evidence led in a Court of Session action raised
by the Laird of Durie in 1790 against the Laird of Wmyss,
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 167
in connection with a Leven Water dispute, we have some
glimpses at the Kirkland pits of far off days. Hundreds
of years ago the Kirkland dam-dyke was erected on the
Leven and ground was flooded to the extent of two and a
half acres. From this dam water was for more than 150
years drawn for working the pumping engines through
which the Kirkland pits were kept free of water. Two
engines were, according to a witness in the Court of
Session, worked by the Leven water from the dam in 1723,
acting on the chain and bucket system. One of the chain
and bucket-engines was displaced by a pump-engine in 1730,
and the wooden pumps introduced proved such a success
that a second pump-engine was erected in the days of
William of Wemyss. The wheel for the bucket engines
was about forty feet in diameter, while that for the first
pump-engine was twenty-eight feet. For over a year coals
were raised from one of the pits by water power ; but the
horse-gin system seems to have been more satisfactory, and
the water-power winding engine was abandoned and the
gin again introduced. One of the witnesses in the action
thus describes the pits and machinery :
" The new engine pit was 62 fathoms deep, and the pumps dis-
charged their water about seven fathoms below the pit mouth. The
engine wrought four sets of pumps, two upon each beam. The
pumps consisted of two bottom pumps, a middle pump, and an
upper pump. One of the bottom pumps discharged its water into a
stone mine about nineteen fathoms from the bottom of the pit,
which mine had a communication with the old engine pit, and the
water run into the mine was raised by the two sets of pumps,
wrought by the old engine. The working-barrels of the two bottom
sets of pumps in the new engine-pit were ten inches in diameter,
and the middle and top sets were nine and a half inches. The new
engine went six strokes a minute."
From statements made by some of the other witnesses
it appears that during the summer months the management
168 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
were sometimes put to great inconvenience for want of
water. The managers had to fall back upon the expedient
of heightening the damhead by erecting boards ; and in
times of extreme drought the operatives at the pits and at
the different mills on the river journeyed all the way to
Loch Leven and cast trenches to bring down a rush of water
from the loch. The lower workings of the pit ultimately
became flooded with water, and the operatives took to the
upper seams. The result of the change was that the most
powerful of the two engines kept the colliery free of water.
In 1785, however, the water-engine suddenly gave way.
One of the supports of the great wheel snapped, and the
huge piece of machinery was thrown out of its place.
While the laird of Wemyss was considering the advisa-
bility of repairing the engine or introducing a " fire engine,"
Messrs Neilson, Greenhill & Company appeared upon the
scene and proposed to erect a great spinning mill. As the
spinners required the whole of the water, the Laird of
Wemyss abandoned the idea of reconstructing his colliery
machinery, and colliery operations ceased. Recently, as
the works of the Fife Coal Company approached Kirk-
land, the water was drained from the old workings. To-
day the Leven colliery miners may have a peep any day
at the old workings which received their motive power
from the river Leven.
Spinning and Linen Hanufacture.
Messrs Neilson, Greenhill & Company built a large
spinning work and utilised the river Leven for motive
power. Having established a great spinning business in
linen and cotton yarns, they turned their attention to the
manufacture of linen, and fitted up hand-looms in the
building which to this day stands on the southern banks of
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 169
the river, and commenced the manufacture of sail-cloth.
The firm did not stop at sail-cloth. Accepting Dunferm-
line as a model, the enterprising manufacturers of Kirk-
land imitated the city, and commenced the manufacture of
damask. In 1794 about 300 hands were employed about
the works, and the Company then imported flax direct
from Russia to the harbour of Methil. A considerable
extension was carried through in 1809, and in January
1810 the works were lit up with gas. This was the first
introduction of gas into any spinning mill in Scotland.
Rankine, the Leven poet of the beginning of the nineteenth
century, writing in 1812 says:
" Nor can the philanthropic muse
Pass Kirkland heedless by,
Where elegance combines with use
T" arrest the traveller's eye.
Within the spacious, lofty dome,
Where wheels unnumbered play,
The brilliant gas dispels the gloom,
And night surpasses day."
Although the firm's name of Neilson & Coy. was kept
up until after 1836, the works at a comparatively early
stage indeed about 1800 were acquired by Mr James
Peter, who was ultimately joined by his brother John, and
in the hands of the Peter family they remained for nearly
a century. Messrs James and John Peter were succeeded
by Messrs H. T. and Thomas Peter gentlemen who have
left on record many pleasant memories, and the latter of
whom wrote a charming little work which bears the title
of " Golfing Reminiscences by an Old Hand." How much
the works progressed during the first half of the century
will be apparent when it is stated that in 1836 there were
109 persons engaged in flax-dressing, 283 employed at the
spinning mill, 48 in the bleaching department, and 241 at
170 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
cloth manufacturing 681 in all. The works were then
consuming annually 1000 tons of flax and hemp, and the
yearly wages amounted to ,17,000. In addition to the
works at Kirkland, the firm had looms employed in the
manufacture of sail cloth and damask in every village in
the district. The Rev. John M'Lauchlan gives us the
following glimpse at the Kirkland of 1836 :
" The work is a model one. As far as the health and morals of
the people are concerned, it is conducted in the best possible
manner. It is not only the wish of the proprietors that the work-
people's children should be properly educated, but they are really
and truly so in all the common branches ; and particular attention
is also paid to their instruction in the great principles of
Christianity by a well-qualified and efficient teacher. Fewer
applications have come for parochial relief from the people
employed at this work than from any other quarter of the parish."
The transition period, from 1848 to 1856, from the
hand loom to the power loom, was got over wonderfully
well. The hand loom gave place to the power loom on the
banks of the Leven in 1857, and during the sixties, when
starching warps were being turned out for Kirkcaldy
Linoleum Works, and other departments were in full
operation, as many as 800 hands must have been in
employment at Kirkland. The foreign competition of the
eighties, which sent many spinning works in Fife and
other counties in Scotland to the wall, was severely felt at
Kirkland, and in the closing days of the eighties work
was, to the deep regret of many people, suspended. The
huge water wheels were stopped, the spinning machinery
became silent, the looms on which millions of yards of
sailcloth had been manufactured ceased to click, and the
great chimney stalks and huge buildings soon stood cold
and deserted, a monument of the industry which had gone
AROUND THE PARISH. 171
from Kirkland for ever. Houses in the " Auld " and the
" New Touns " became tenantless, and Kirkland presented
a depressing sight. Such was the condition of things
in 1896 when
The Scottish Cyanide Company, Limited,
started operations. The Company was formed with
a capital of ,200,000 for the purpose of making cyanide
of sodium for extracting gold from the ore. The great
water wheels of old, the chimney stalk, and many huge
buildings were soon cleared away, and within three years
one of the finest appointed works in the world had been
erected on the site of the old spinning mill and bleaching
works. The whole of the machinery is driven by turbines
of 260 horse power, drawn from the river Leven. In
addition to these, there is an electrical installation of ten
large boilers, and four triple-expansion Willans engines, of
nearly 1000 horse power each, and this power is utilised
for heating the electric furnaces for producing cyanide.
South Africa is one of the great markets for cyanide, and
just before the Boer War broke out in 1899 the manu-
factured article was selling at Is 2|d per Ib. Unfor-
tunately the process of manufacture had not been per-
fected at Kirkland when the boom at high rates was on.
During the war exports of cyanide were practically
stopped, and the market became glutted, with the result
that the price fell from Is 2|d per Ib. to 6|d. Stocks
were so large that for about three years the price
remained at this abnormally low rate, and the works at
Kirkland were ultimately shut down. Time has not been
allowed to pass in vain, however. The process of making
has been perfected, the producing plant has been added to,
and the Scottish Cyanide Company are in a position to
172 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
turn out more cyanide than any other work in Scotland,
with the exception of one, and the quality is of the finest.
Reports from all parts of the country show that the 'trade
is reviving from the war glut. In addition to the ori-
ginal capital of 200,000, debenture stock of 50,000 was
further spent on the undertaking. The Company went into
liquidation in September 1905, and a new company was
formed, with a capital of 50,000. The directors are :
Messrs W. Sanderson, C. King, G. Readman, C. Carlow,
A. D. Mackenzie, J. B. Readman, and Dr Dawson Turner.
Mr R. Bryce Lawrie is the secretary and manager, and Mr
Sparshott, electrical engineer.
THE TOWN OF BUCKHAVEN.
Trade brings wonderful changes, and in no part of the
parish of Wemyss have the changes during the past forty
years been greater than in the town of Buckhaven.
Forty-five years ago the population of the town was 1950
souls ; to-day it is 5000. It is quite forty years since the
writer passed along the East and the West " Toun." It
happened to be a fete day. As the visitors passed into
the narrow streets more than one of the residents declared
that " A' the world's in oor toun the day." Then, even
on a holiday, sculls, partan creels, coils of baited lines, and
white-lettered bladders were met with at every turn in the
narrow lanes and at the foot of the outside stairs of the
streets, and when two names were mentioned the surnames
of the village were practically exhausted. Identification
had often to be helped by the adoption of a wife's
Christian name or the name of the skipper's boat.
In the old-world days, perhaps a century ago, the
name adopted was not enough in some instances, and nick-
names were had recourse to. And if a well-known legend
is to be accepted as anything near the truth, the " tee " or
" slug " names had often to be used with caution. The
legend tells us that on a stormy night two men met on the
historic Braehead. " Windy, Willie," said one. " Ter-
rible, Tammy," said the other. The weather greeting
happened to be the nicknames of the men, and, according
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
to the legend, they fell on each other and fought out as
tough a battle as if they had been struggling with the
wind and tide at the entrance to Buckhaven harbour.
When " Tammy " and " Willie " fought on the Brae-
head, fishing was the staple industry of the village.
" Half dealsmen " only now and again came from the pits
of Wemyss and Durie and joined the old salts for a brief
West Shore Street, Buckhaven.
season in the "herring draive," or at the deep sea lines.
Now the process is reversed. Only a handful of the
villagers hoist the dark brown sails at intervals, and some
of the younger men fill in time in and about the pits.
" Coal, coal, coal ! " is the cry, and coal has raised Buck-
haven from a fishing village to a place which is the centre
of municipal life for the three towns which form the Burgh
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 175
of Buckhaven. Happily in the transformation scene
which has been evolved during the past thirty years, the
streets which formed the old fishing village are preserved.
The old red-roofed houses still cling to the rocks, which
rise boldly from the waters' edge, like limpets.
The "Buckhyne" of old is a village apart, and as one
looks on the few old women who may now be seen shelling
mussels, baiting lines, or mending nets, he may at least form
an idea of the spectacle the streets and lanes presented
when the entire residents of the old houses lived by the
The Original Inhabitants.
The Rev. Dr Harry Spens, who was minister of the
parish of Wemyss from 1744 to 1761, writing in 1778
" As far as I have been able to learn, the original inhabitants of
Buckhaven were from the Netherlands about the time of Philip II.
Their vessel had been stranded on the shore. They proposed to
settle and remain. The family of Wemyss gave them permission.
They accordingly settled. By degrees they acquired our language
and adopted our dress, and for these three score years past they
have had the character of a sober and sensible, an industrious and
honest set of people. The only singularity in their ancient customs
that I remember to have heard of was that of a richly ornamented
girdle or belt, worn by their brides of good condition and character
at their marriage, and then laid aside and given in like manner to
the next bride that should be deemed worthy of such an honour.
The village consists at present of about 140 families, 60 of whom
are fishers, and the rest land laboiirers, weavers and other
Philip II. of Spain reigned from 1527 to 1599, so that
if the tradition on which Dr Spens founded his statement
is correct, the " original inhabitants " first arrived in the
"Hyne" of Buckhaven when James IV. was King of
176 RAMBLES IN SCOON1B AND WEMYSS.
Scotland, and in the days of Sir John Wemyss of that ilk
or David, first Earl of Wemyss.
The Origin of the Name.
Shelving rocks stretch out from the town into the
depths of the Forth, and when the tide ebbs or flows there
is a constant commotion and the sound of waves. In a
storm the noise, as the waves lash over the skerries, is
great, and it is probably from the roar of the sea that
Buckhaven gets its name. BUG or beuc in Gaelic means to
yell or to roar, and if we drop the v in Buckhaven we
get Buckha'en, and naturally stumble into the local pro-
nunciation Buckhyne. Certain it is that from time
immemorial the people have spoken of the East and the
West Hyne, and the name has been reminiscent of the
sound of the surge which drove the Netherlands crew on
to the rocks which lie in the " Hyne."
A Sixteenth Century Incident.
The first authentic notice of Buckhaven is to be found
in the "Wemyss Memorials," under date 1516. In this
year a dispute arose between the Laird of Wemyss and Sir
John Dingwall, vicar of the parish of Wemyss, respecting
the teinds belonging to Sir John. Besides the Laird, the
fishermen of Easter Wemyss and Buckhaven were parties
to the action. While the action was going on, the vicar
appealed to the Court of Rome, a course of procedure
which was opposed to the policy of the Scottish Kings of
the time and the patriotic clergy. The vicar was punished
for his conduct, the sentence of a heavy fine and a severe
rebuke being announced at high mass in Wemyss Church.
The difficulty about the teinds was ultimately got over by
the parties agreeing upon a compromise and passing in to
church "in oxtors" (arm-in-arm).
THE PARISH OP WEMY8S. 177
During the war between England and Holland, in
1667, David second Earl of Wemyss and another peer of
the realm, had some special authority in the County of
Fife. Their lordships were written to by Archbishop
Sharp and asked to look to the condition of the coast
towns on the Forth. The Earl of Wemyss was the means
by his vigilance of saving some of the King's ships. Here
is the story, as told in the Earl's diary :
" On the last day of April 1667, the Hollands fleete inveadded
Scotland, and cam up that day to Bruneiland, with 30 good ships,
sum of 60, sum of 50 gunes a peisse, besides 10 littile ones. They
did offer to land to have burnt all the ships in Bruneiland, but was
beatten back, and they shotte above 1000 gritte shott att itt, sum
of 24 bolle, and did not kill man, wife or child ; shotte att noe
other toune or pleasse ; killed one man in a botte off Buickheauin
that day, the botte being at fishing, and they would not cum
aboard of them, so they shotte att the botte, and killed one
Alexander Christie ther. The botte gott off, and we bourried the
man at Wemyss cairfully that day. May 1667."
This incident shows that the men of Buckhaven in
1667 were men of pluck. They had been pursuing their
calling peacefully off Buckhaven when the Dutch fleet
hove in sight. The fishermen refused to go aboard the
war vessels, and they were fired upon. The crew do not
seem to have become panic-stricken by the fact that one of
the balls took effect and killed one man. Amidst the
shouts and the shots of the Dutch bullies the fishermen
rowed pluckily for the harbour, and in the quaint language
of the Earl " the botte gott off."
De Foe's Glimpses.
For many years the people of Buckhaven were a com-
munity to themselves. They married when comparatively
young, and they invariably wedded fishermen's daughters
178 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of the same village. The fishermen were a most in-
dustrious class of men, and many of them owned the red-
roofed houses which stood on the Broken Brae and on the
Links, in addition to their boats and all the furnishings
common to the industry. Defoe, the talented author of
"Robinson Crusoe," visited the "Hyne" about the year
1 700, and he says :
" Buckhaven is inhabited by fishermen, who are employed
wholly in catching fresh fish every day in the Firth, and carrying
them to Leith and Edinburgh markets. The buildings are but a
miserable row of cottages, yet there is scarce a poor man in it ; but
they are in general so very clownish that to be of the village of
Buckhaven is become a proverb."
Defoe, like the cynic who wrote the vulgar pamphlet
which takes the title of "The History of Buckhaven:
comprising the Sayings of Wise Willie and Witty Eppie,
and an Account of the College," must have been snubbed
by a " Bucker" fishwife while higgling over the purchase
of some fresh herrings. Dr Robert Chambers, who lived
in the days when the so-called History was being circu-
lated among the chap-books of the country, was at special
pains to get facts bearing on the people who had been
lampooned and maligned, and writing in 1828 he says:
" To do them justice, it must be declared that the people on in-
spection appear precisely the same industrious, simple, primitive
race with the rest of the piscatory inhabitants of Fife."
The minister of the parish of 1821 is as emphatic in
his contradiction of Defoe as the minister of the eighteenth
century and Dr Chambers were. Mr M'Lachlan says :
" There are 170 men connected with the fishing station at
Buckhaven. They have no fewer than 144 boats of various
dimensions. ... It may well be said that they are a most
industrious class of men, and are truly entitled, not only to pro-
tection, but to every countenance and encouragement."
THK PAKISH OP WEMYSS. 179
In an old song we have yet another view of the people
of Buckhaven which is very different from that of Defoe :
" The canty carls of Dysart,
The merry lads of Buckhaven,
The saucy limmers of Largo,
The bonny lasses of Leven ."
The "College" referred to in the "History "is a
building which to this day stands at the foot of the brae
at the east end of the town. A whale's jawbones grace
the entrance to the historic building. It may be interest-
ing to state that it is more than a century since the
building was occupied as a school. About the year 1800
it fell into the hands of a sailor, who, says Taylor, engaged
in smuggling. The smuggled goods were concealed on the
premises, and drunken brawls often took place. In a
brawl the sailor's wife met her death, and her ghost
haunted the place.
The vulgar " Sayings " of Willie and Eppie have
long since ceased to linger about the " Hyne," and it is
more than fifty years since the people ceased to persuade
themselves into the idea that the ghost of the wife of the
smuggling sailor lingered nightly about the whale's jawbones.
The Fishing Industry from 1750 to 1905.
It appears that before 1750, long before the steam
trawler was thought of, haddocks began to get scarce in
Largo Bay, and Mr Gibb, the minister of the parish, tells
us that the fishermen had in consequence been reduced.
" Formerly," he says, " there were in Easter Wemyss, five
boats, with five men each, and one in Wester Wemyss,
with five men, and now there is only one boat in Easter
Wemyss, and the crew consists of old men." Despite the
scarcity of haddocks and the decay of the industry at East
180 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Wemyss, the fishermen of Buckhaven stuck to their boats
and their lines, and Mr Gibb says that in the village
" there is little alteration in the number of fishermen, and
though fish are much scarcer than formerly, yet the fisher-
men are in some measure compensated by the high prices."
Away back in 1750 as many as 25,000 haddocks were
sometimes caught in one day by the " merry lads " of
Buckhaven. At that time the East Neuk burghs had a
complete monopoly of the Edinburgh market, and big as
the catches were by the Buckhaven crews, the bulk of the
fish were sold in the " Kingdom " of Fife.
As the boats arrived, the pier was crowded with men
arid horses. The fish were transferred from the boats to
the creels, a couple of creels were slung over the horses'
backs, and far and near the fish were hawked. The creels,
Mr Gibb tells us, ultimately gave place to "neat carts,"
and this was the beginning of the " cadger " as he is
known to-day. In the closing decade of the eighteenth
century, when the fish seemed annually to be getting
scarcer in Largo Bay, the hopes of the Buckhaven fisher-
men were raised by the appearance of herring in Inver-
keithing Bay. The harvest gotten under the shadow of
the Ferry hills and Inch Garvie was disappointing in the
extreme, and the fishermen of Buckhaven had very soon to
begin to look further afield for fish. By the close of the
eighteenth century it became apparent to the fishermen
that if they meant to exist as a community they must
journey outwith the May Island. They began to make
journeys to Helmsdale, Fraserburgh, and Wick, and so
successful were they in the departure that Mr M'Lauchlan,
the minister of the parish, writing in 1837, tells us that
the fishing station of Buckhaven had greatly increased in
THE PAKISH OF WEMYSS. 181
recent years. At that time there were 170 men employed
in the trade, and they owned as many as 144 boats of
various dimensions. They set out then in the month of
July for the great herring fishing stations in the north,
and there they generally stayed for two months. Mr
M'Lauchlan gives the values of boats and nets belonging
to Buckhaven as follows :
Boats. Each Boat, each Boat. Total.
First Class- 60 75 110 11,100
Second - 44 40 120 7,040
Third - 40 14 20 1,360
It will be noticed that the value of nets is greater for
the second class boats than the first. This is accounted for
by the fact that three sets of nets were required for the
second class boats, while only two sets were employed in
connection with the first and the third.
Previous to 1785, twelve boats, with six men in each,
went in the month of August to the herring fishing off
Dunbar ; but the encouragement by 1790 had become so
poor that the Dunbar visits had been completely aban-
doned. Early in the nineteenth century the Dunbar
fishings were resumed, however, and in 1835 as many as
100 boats crossed the Forth during July, August, and
September, and engaged in the herring fishing with con-
siderable profit. In the fifties and the early sixties the
herring again fought shy of the Dunbar coast. Once
more the Dunbar waters were abandoned, and in 1866 the
fishermen hied themselves as far north as Stornoway.
North Shields afterwards became a favourite station, and
for some years as many as 100 Buckhaven boats unfurled
their sails and set out for the south. In very successful
182 RAMBLES IN SCOON1E AND WEMYSS.
years some boats "grossed" as much as 800 for the
season ; but hi recent years the virtue has gone out of
even the waters of South Shields, and the 35 boats which
went south in 1904 returned to the Hyne to report an
exceedingly lean season. Happily 1905 showed con-
siderable improvement. Mr Gibb tells us that " the fish
usually caught in the Forth are haddocks, cod, turbot,
skate, whitings, soles, flounders, mackerel, and herring."
Some crews are still engaged all the year round at
what is now spoken of under the expressive term of
"the white fishing," but the -catches of white fish are
not a patch on the takings of Mr Gibb's day. Less
than half a century ago the winter herring fishing
commenced in November and continued until the month
of March, and as many as 50 boats daily left Buckhaven
harbour during the season. Now it is the first month of
the year before the fishing commences, and it generally
closes by the first week in March. At the time herring
appeared in Inverkeithing Bay the boats commenced
operations for the season further up the river than they do
at present, and Burntisland was a considerable market for
the fleet of boats. Cod and ling formed quite a harvest
sixty years ago, and the fish were disposed of freely at 5s
per score. To day, cod and ling bring as much as 3 or 4
per score ; but big as the price is, it does not compensate
for the terrible scarcity of fish. The other fishermen of
the East Coast have the same story to tell of scarcity of
fish as the Buckhaven men. Along the whole line the
change is set down to the action of the trawlers in drag-
ging over spawning grounds. Twenty years ago the
opposition to trawling became so strong that the Govern-
ment were compelled to interfere, and fixed the well-known
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 183
three mile limit, the demarkation line being fixed from
Tantallon Castle to Fife Ness. In 1860 an impetus was
given to the trade by the arrival of English buyers. The
English buyers did not linger long in the district, and of the
old fishcurers, whose names are to this day spoken of with
reverence in many a household, Bailie Kiunear may be
said to be the only one who is still in the flesh.
In the eighteenth century Buckhaven harbour was
such a wretched apology for a haven for boats that the
Rev. George Gibb, writing in 1790, does not think it
worthy of mention. He says: "There are two good
harbours in the parish, one at Methil and one at Wester
Wemyss." In 1835 a strong agitation arose for improve-
ment at Buckhaven. The Fishery Board was approached,
and ultimately a scheme was launched which was estimated
to cost 4200. Of this sum the Fishery Board agreed to
contribute 3000, and the balance was to be made up by
the fishermen. The scheme was carried through in 1837-8.
A further extension scheme was entered on in 1850, and
two years later it was completed at a cost of 18,000,
6000 of which was subscribed by the fishermen, and the
Fishery Board made up the deficiency. In July 1905 a
Bill, which was promoted by Mr Wemyss of Wemyss
Castle and others, was heard by a Committee of the House
of Lords in London, praying for powers for the construc-
tion of a dock at Buckhaven at a cost of 260,000. After
hearing the evidence of the promoters, the Chairman, the
Duke of Northumberland, said the Committee found that
the preamble of the Bill had not been proved, but they had
been much impressed by the evidence with regard to the
congestion of the district. They did not consider it had
184 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
been proved that no other party could relieve the conges-
tion except Mr Wemyss, the promoter, and therefore they
did not at present see sufficient reasons for relieving him
from the agreements he had entered into with the North
British Railway Company, while there were still hopes of
the necessary accommodation being provided from some
other source. The Bill was accordingly thrown out. In
the month of August a meeting of coal masters and
shipping agents was held in Glasgow, at which a deputa-
tion was appointed to wait on the Directors of the North
British Railway Company and press them to provide
additional accommodation at Methil. The Committee met
the Directors on September 21st. The Directors inti-
mated that they would consider the representations made
to them, and there is a prospect of a Bill providing for an
extension at Methil being promoted in November 1905.
Muiredge and Rosie Collieries.
In 1864, at the very time the fishing industry showed
signs of decay, three men arrived at Dysart railway
station from the little mining village of Crossgates. The
young men caught up a young brewer who was driving a
horse and spring cart and who had disposed of his load.
" Is this the road to Wemyss Castle 1 " asked one of the
men. "Yes," was the frank reply, "I pass the entrance
to the avonue. Jump on, if you care." The strangers did
not require a second invitation. They leapt on to the van
and were driven to the avenue leading to Wemyss Castle.
The three men were Archibald Bowman, and James and
David Cairns. They were on their way to Wemyss Castle
to make inquiries about Muiredge Colliery, and before
they had left the Castle they had agreed to take a lease of
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
At Muiredge Colliery a shaft had been sunk by the
Wemyss family to the chemiss splint, a depth of 80
fathoms. It stood, however, in the centre of a coal which
was so much calcined that it was practically useless, and
the subject, with its continual rush of water down the
J*lr Archibald Bowman.
shaft, cannot be said to have been particularly inviting.
Turn how the men liked, they were face to face with
burnt coal, and an old friend who had had somt? experience
of mining did not hesitate to affirm that the Company
186 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
would woo " fickle fortune " in vain, " and would only lose
what little they had." The partners had a strong scent for
coal. They discovered the site of Earl David's " Happy
Mine," to the east, and saw puffing pits and heard the
rattle of coals to the west, and from this they argued that
they were bound ultimately to succeed at Muiredge. And
succeed they did. They got through the burnt coal and
pierced the dyke to the west, and struck a large stretch of
fine coal at a point where an authority, who was alleged
to read the metals " like a book," said the coal had been
in the air and in the glacial period had gone down the
Forth. " Down the Forth," forsooth ! It was more than
100 fathoms under the surface. It has gone down the
Forth during the past 30 years not on glaciers, but in
boats. The little bits of luck put the Company on their
feet and gave them heart, and from a fortnightly wage bill
of GO they soon rose to ,100, and, according to an official
statement made in 1891, the wages paid every fortnight
amounted to 4000. Early in the seventies the Company
appointed Mr A. Bowman to the post of general manager,
and from the date of his appointment the progress began
to be even more marked than it had previously been. In
the golden days of 1872-3, the Company reaped a rich
harvest from the two Muiredge pits. Mr Bowman turned
the surplus cash to good account by sinking the Denbeath,
the Isabella, and the Rosie pits, and raised the output of
the Company from some 300 tons to 2000 tons a day.
A break was experienced in 1879, when Mr James
Cairns died, and just before the fall of the leaf in 1882,
another loss was sustained by the decease of Mr Lawrence
Bowman. Mr David Cairns left Methil and took up his
abode at Crail, where he was beyond the sound of whistling
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
steam pipes and rattling jiggers. He died in the spring of
1905. The remains of the three men who founded the
Company now lie side by side in the God's acre of the
parish of Wemyss. The three worked cordially together.
It is fitting that they should find a last resting-place in
the same sunny spot, and within a short distance of the
old corbie-stepped and red-roofed houses where they first
saw the light of day. When they went first to live inland
they used often to say that they could not sleep for want
of the noise of the waters of the Forth. They have been
laid to rest within the shadow of Maodutf's Castle, and
within the sound of the rippling waves which in youth
brought balm}'- sleep. Peace to their ashes !
The Denbeath, Isabella, and Rosie pits of to-dav
present a striking contrast to the Muiredge pit, where the
Company first commenced operations. But great as the
contrast is, it is not more striking than that which is
188 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
presented to the minds of those who are able to compare
the facilities for the disposal of the coals with those of
to-day. For some time after Muiredge was started, the
coals were conveyed to Methil harbour in carts ; the carts
in time gave place to a horse waggon way by Denbeath
Glen, and ultimately the horses gave place to a locomotive.
In the early days of the Company all was excitement at
the pits when a boat of 200 tons came into Methil ; now it
takes a steamer of from 3000 to 5000 tons to arouse just a
little excitement, and the little excitement is confined to
colliery officials who are immediately responsible for the
dispatch of the colliery output. The changes experienced
in the district during the past 40 years have not by any
means been confined to the collieries. Like Methil, the
old-world town of Buckhaven has been surrounded by a
modern town, and while in 1861 the population was 1965,
the population to-day is 5000. Messrs Bowman & Co.'s
lease expired in August 1905, and the works were then
acquired by the Wemyss Coal Coy., Ltd.
Mr Archibald Bowman, the general manager of Bow-
man & Company, is a man of restless energy. He is
Chairman of the Bowhill Coal Company, and takes a great
interest in all that concerns the welfare of that most
successful Company. He has been appointed a Director
in the Wemyss Coal Company, Limited.
Net flanufacturing and other Works.
Sixty years ago the click of the hand-loom was heard
in most of the narrow streets in Buckhaven, and Mr
Thomas Ireland carried on an extensive business as reed
maker, making reeds for not only the workers of linen in
the parish of Wemyss, but for toilers at the loom in the
entire county. In the sixties the hand-loom was gradually
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 189
silenced by the power-loom, and the reed industry of
Buckhaven declined with the hand-loom trade. Mr Ire-
land died in 1903. Another trade which has left the
burgh is that of boatbuilding. Time was when Mr J.
Ireland, Mr J. Kinnear, Mr D. Brown, and Mr M. Baird
each had a considerable number of hands engaged in build-
ing boats for the fishermen of the Forth. A launch has
not taken place in the " Hyne " for many years, and the
only links that remain of the industry are some old repair-
ing works. Net manufacturing has been carried on at
Buckhaven for many years. As far back as 1858 Mr
John Ireland, who was a man of great enterprise, and his
sons, took up net manufacturing under the firm name of
John Ireland & Sons. When they first commenced opera-
tions, nets were made of hemp twine, but when cotton took
the place of hemp, the Messrs Ireland were not slow in
adapting themselves to the change, and made an important
addition to their works in the shape of a spinning work.
For some time they employed as many as 300 hands.
When the fishing industry began to decline in the neigh-
bourhood, however, the hands were gradually reduced, and
the firm gave up manufacturing in 1870. A destructive
fire played sad havoc among the spinning plant in 1880,
and operations were not again commenced. Messrs J. &
W. Stuart, patent net and twine manufacturers, Mussel-
burgh, took over Messrs Ireland's net manufacturing
plant in 1870 and commenced operations in the old works.
In 1878 they built their present commodious premises and
had them fitted up with machinery of the latest type.
There are seventy looms in operation, and employment is
generally given to about seventy hands. Mr W. D.
Matthew is in charge of Messrs Stuart's Buckhaven
branch. Mr William Thomson opened his works in
190 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Randolph Street in 1870. Since the opening, important
additions have been made to the works, and the machinery
is thoroughly up-to-date. There are forty looms in opera-
tion, and these give employment to about forty hands. Mr
Thomson has his son associated with him in business.
Time was when all the wood used for house building, &c.,
in the parish of Wemyss was cut at the sawmills of Kirk-
land or Leven. For many years Mr David Brown and his
sons have had a well-appointed sawmill in operation at
Buckhaven. Messrs Brown deal largely in our home-
grown timber. They buy up whole plantations of the best
of Scotch wood and have the trees converted at Buckhaven
into the heavy beams and other timbers which have now
become so popular at many of the Fife pits for above
and below ground.
The Ecclesiastical History.
The Rev. John M'Lachlan, the minister of the parish
of Wemyss in the thirties, looked with a kindly eye on the
Dissenters of Buckhaven, and gave them a certificate of
"respectability." Writing in 1836, Mr M'Lauchlan
" There is a Dissenting meeting-house in connection with the
United Association Synod, situated on the Links of Buckhaven,
about two miles from the parish church. The clergyman's stipend
is 110 per annum, with manse and garden. The present minister
is the Rev. Robert Pollock. The congregation is respectable, and
divine service is well attended."
The stipend paid to Mr Pollock shows that the Dis-
senting congregation of Buckhaven were " respectable "
in more ways than that suggested by Mr M'Lauchlan.
They were Dissenters, and they were willing to pay for
their Dissent. The history of Dissent in Buckhaven goes
back to a more remote period than 1836. As far back as
THE PARISH OF WKMYSS. 191
October 1739, Mr John Thomson, an elder in the Estab-
lished Church of Wemyss parish, and several friends met
and resolved to cast in their lot with the Associate Presby-
tery. At first they attended the Associate Church of
Abbotshall, Kirkcaldy, but on a church being opened at
Kennoway they "lifted their lines" at Abbotshall, and
joined the Dissenters in Kennoway. Some difference of
opinion arose in 1791 in Kennoway over a call to a
successor to the Rev. "Wm. Kidston. The members
resident in Buckhaven and other places in the parish of
Wemyss took advantage of the division to plead for the
formation of a separate congregation at Buckhaven.
The Presbytery gave ear to the appeal from Wemyss
parish, and in 1792 a congregation was formed. A
delightful site on the links, near the Denbeath of to-day,
was granted by General Wemyss for a church, and the
building was completed and ready for public worship in
January '1795. The church was built from boulders
gathered from the beach, and from blocks quarried from
the Braid Hills close by.
From the date of formation in 1792 to 1796 the con-
gregation had no regular minister, and for nearly two
years services were conducted in the open air and in a
barn in the village. David Telford, from Stirling, was
the first minister. He was ordained on 12th July 1796.
He began with a stipend of 70 a year, and the modest
sum of 4 annually for house rent. Mr Telford was paid a
half year's stipend in advance on the day of his ordination,
and ace rding to the custom of the times, the cheque
included ,6 8s lOd for a suit of clothes and certain fur-
nishings. A manse was built near the church in 1801,
and then followed a wall round the manse. The Rev.
192 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
"Wm. Dunlop, the present pastor of the congregation, who
some years ago made a study of the minutes of the church,
tells us that in 1807 as many as 227 sittings were let in
the body of the church and 59 in the "pens." In 1810,
the stipend was raised to .85 a year. The congregation
seems to have been alive to the necessity of educating the
young, and about 1810 a school was opened near the
church. Henry Davidson was the first "bedel," and he
was followed by John Anderson and James Martin (John).
Stories of the good work done by these functionaries are
told in Buckhaven to this day.
On the 4th May 1824 Mr Telford died. John Lan-
dale, a member of the congregation, wrote the following
inscription, which appears on a memorial stone in Wemyss
" To wean mankind from sin and vice
And lead them to a Saviour's grace ;
To visit, cherish, and console
The sick, the poor, the afflicted soul,
Thus Telford spent his useful life,
A friend to peace, aloof from strife ;
As parent, husband, neighbour, friend,
Indulgent, loving, good and kind :
With love to God and man inspired,
The friend of both lies here interred."
On the 29th August 1825 it was agreed to call Mr
Peter M'Dowall, from Ivy Place, Stranraer. Mr
M'Dowall was at the same time under call to Alloa, and
he chose Alloa. It was May 1826 before the congregation
found themselves in a position to make another call.
This time the choice fell on the Rev. Robert Pollock,
from Mauchline. Mr Pollock became the second minister
of the Secession Church of Buckhaven in December 1826.
He was certainly a man of considerable ability, and under the
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 193
title of " Apocalyptic Regeneration " he published a study
of the Book of Revelation. He had the honorary degree
of LL.D. conferred upon him. With all his ability, he
does not appear to have been particularly steadfast in the
Dissenting faith. Mr Dunlop reminds us that one of his
famous sayings was, " My sword is now unsheathed, never
to return to the scabbard until the triumphant flag of
Voluntaryism is flying from the last rampart of the
Establishment." In 1845 he hauled down the flag of
Voluntaryism, bade adieu to Buckhaven, and became
minister of Kingston quoad sacra Church, Glasgow. Mr
Pollock was a medal holder on Dubbieside golf links in 1837,
and according to tradition could use his fists as well as he
could handle a golf cleek. " Purse or life ! " was the
demand which a local Dick Turpin made while Pollock
passed the " Double Dykes " one night. " Do you know
who I am ?" asked the minister. " Yes ; you're Pollock the
minister o' Buckbyne." was the reply. Pollock cast his
coat, ejaculating " There lies the minister, and here stands
Pollock." And Pollock set to work and gave the " would-
be-robber" a severe thrashing. Mr Pollock was succeeded
by the Rev. Win. Cowan, from Selkirk. Mr Cowan was
ordained on Gth July 1846. The stipend at that time was
100 a year and 10 for expenses. Within a year of Mr
Cowan's settlement in Buckhaven, the union of the
Secession and Relief Churches had taken place. Mr
Cowan resigned the charge in May 1855, and took up
missionary work in Glasgow. Mr Alexander C.
Rutherford, Falkirk, was inducted as the fourth
minister of the congregation on 13th November 1855. Mr
Rutherford was translated to Noroh Richmond Street
Church, Edinburgh, on 27th March 1860. He died in
194 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
1878. The Rev. Robert Alexander, a native of Fen wick,
came next. He was ordained on 25th March 1862. Mr
Alexander accepted a call to Queen Anne Street Church,
Dunfermline. on 12th August 1873. Mr John G. Train
succeeded Mr Alexander. He was ordained on 7th June
1874. Mr Train had not been long in Buckhaven when
he had call after call presented by congregations. In
1886 he accepted a call to Hull, and is now in London.
Mr William Shaw Stewart, a native of Ireland, was
ordained to the pastorate of the Church on 27th September
1887. He went to Glasgow in December 1890, and on
28th April 1891 Mr Win. Dunlop was ordained to the
charge. Mr Dunlop is a native of Ayrshire, and is an
M.A. of Glasgow University. He took his Divinity course
in the United Presbyterian Hall of Edinburgh. He takes
a great interest in every institution established for good in
the Burgh. So far as golf is concerned, history repeats
itself in the manse of Buckhaven. Mr Dunlop is as
skilful an exponent of the game of to-day as Mr Pollock
was , in the game of the thirties. He plays scratch in
the Innerleven Club. The present church was opened
during the ministry of Mr Alexander. The opening
services took place on 12th April 1869. At the Union
the congregation adopted the name of St David's United
Muiredge United Free Church.
Muiredge Church is spoken of as a " daughter " of St
David's. It was originated by Mr Train, and was opened
on 2nd July 1885. The Presbytery intended to place the
church to the north of the Ness Braes, near the burn, but
ultimately fixed the site at the corner of Church Street, a
spot which for years had been a scene of animation at fairs
PARISH OP WEMYSS. 195
and holiday times. Being situated on ground 011 Muir-
edge Farm, the church was, at the suggestion of one of the
elders who is still with us, named Muiredge Church. The
building was begun in 1884. The work proceeded some-
what slowly at first, and during a violent westerly gale a
squall of hurricane force blew down the front gable. This
retarded the work still more. With but little help from with-
out, the congregation went on year by year gradually but
surely paying off debt until, before the ministry of the
first minister was closed in 1894, the church was free from
all financial difficulty. The congregation carried through
a painting and cleaning scheme at a cost of 100 before
its second minister was inducted. After a year this new
debt was cleared off. Mr John Bissett (of Lathones) was
ordained as the first minister in July 1886. On his
acceptance of a call to Lochee Road Church, Dundee, in
February 1894, a short vacancy ensued. In July of the
same year Mr David Hume, M.A., London, was ordained
to the second charge. The want of a manse was soon
raised as a question of increasing urgency, and in 1902
the minister was comfortably housed in a new manse,
St Andrew's United Free Church.
A mission station under the auspices of the Free
Church was formed in Buckhaven in 1 866. The members
were drawn chiefly from East Wemyss and Leven con
gregations. For several years the station was under the
charge of successive probationers. The services were at
first conducted in the school, but a church was erected and
opened in 1872. The building has a rather interesting
history. It was originally the place of worship of the
Episcopal congregation in the city of St Andrews ; but,
having become too small, the building as it stood was
196 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
purchased by the Free Church Committee, the materials
brought by sea to Buckhaven, and re-erected on the pre-
sent site, the total cost being about .1300. In 1875 the
station was raised by the General Assembly to the posi-
tion of a sanctioned charge. On the 29th October 1875
the Rev. William M'Ghie, the present pastor, was
ordained to the charge. Mr M'Ghie is a native of Chapel-
ton, in the parish of Glassford, Lanarkshire. He studied
at Glasgow University and Free Churcb College. During
his ministry the congregation has largely increased. At
a cost of nearly .1900, the church has been extended, a
large and commodious rnanse erected, and a hall added to
the congregational property. Mr M'Ghie has been a
member of Wemyss School Board for 21 years, and for a
term fulfilled the duties of chairman.
The Established Church.
The Established Church at Buckhaven had its origin
in missionary work, commenced in October 1894 by the
Rev. John Kennedy, of East Wemyss. The Rev. William
Dunlop was the first missionary. The church was opened
in 1900. The building cost 1500, and provides accom-
modation for 320 sitters There is no debt on the build-
ing. Mr Dunlop was succeeded by the Rev. G. Borrow-
man, who in 1904 was called to the Scots Church,
Newcastle-on-Tyne, The Rev. J. Mackechnie was or-
dained to the pastorate of the church in February 1905,
when he had a hearty welcome from the congregation, and
was presented with a gold albert and appendage. Mr
Mackechnie is a graduate of Edinburgh University, and
was the pastor of the Beach Church, Broughty Ferry,
previous to his coming to Buckhaven.
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 197
A Church of Christ.
A branch of a body which takes the name of the Church
of Christ meets in the Iron Church in Chapel Street.' The
body met for some time in a hall, but about five years ago
built the little iron church in which they now assemble
every first day of the week. The members adhere firmly
to the old faith of " putting on Christ " by immersion.
THE CAVES OF WEMYSS.
The "Kingdom" of Fife abounds in caves or "weems"-
a derivative from the Gaelic name for a cave. In St
Andrews we have the cave of St Rule, at Pittenweem the
cave of St Fillan, and St Adrian's at Caiplie ; in Dunferrn-
line, the cave of St Margaret, and in Culross, St Serf's.
The patron saint of Culross is described as having usually
spent the forty dajs of Lent in a cave named the Desertum.
This cave at Desertum, or Dysart, was utilised as a church
up to a date near the Reformation. The rocky coast-line
of the Firth of Forth from West Wemyss to a point near
Buckhaven is, to use a suggestive word of Sir William
Fraser, " honey-combed " by caves. Nine caves were for
years accessible, but there is little doubt that others
existed. As time went on, the openings of the unseen
caves had been covered over with fallen and accumulated
debris. Only one of the nine caves was situated to the
west of the village of East Wemyss. It was called the
Glass Cave, because in 1610 Sir George Hay, Lord Clerk
Register, afterwards Lord Kinnoul, established a manu-
factory for glass in the pre-historic dwelling, and in 1698,
David third Earl of Wemyss followed the example of the
Earl of Kinnoul Seven years ago, the Michael pits were
sunk on the shore a little to the east of the historic cave.
In the course of time one of the upper seams of coal was
worked und*r the cave. The operations affected the
surface, and one evening four years ago a crash was heard
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 199
in the valley between Wemyss Castle and East Wemyss.
The cave had fallen in, and to-day the Glass Cave presents
all the appearance of a huge wrecked lime kiln.
The Earl of Kirmoul seems to have carried on his glass-
work at considerable loss. Although the work was one of
the earliest of the kind in Scotland, "the demand for glass
does not seem to have been particularly heavy. Reporting
on the trade to James VI., in 1619, the Privy Council
state that the proprietor had discovered that the income
from glass for a year would not meet a month's bill at the
works. Despite the discouraging circumstances, Sir
William Eraser found from the Wemyss papers that the
works were active in 1691 In 1698, David third Earl of
Wemyss obtained an Act of Parliament giving him and
others a monopoly of the making of certain kinds of glass.
Perhaps the monopoly secured to Earl David by Act of
Parliament enabled him to make two ends meet ; but it is
apparent that the glass-blowers who followed him found it
a difficult task to work to profit. Mr Gibb, the minister
of the parish, writing in 1790, says :
"This cave, which is about 200 feet in length, 100 feet in
breadth, and 30 feet in height, was fitted up about 60 years ago by
a tacksman for a glass-work ; but soon after the work commenced
the man became bankrupt, and the buildings were allowed to go to
Turning eastwards, beyond the village of East Wemyss,
the first cave the visitor comes to is the Court Cave,
through the two doorways of which the charming shore-
walk is threaded. Two explanations of the name of this
cave are given. One is that when the lands of Easter
Wemyss were the property of the Livingstones or Colvilles,
their baronial courts were held in the cave ; the second is
that James IV. in a frolic one evening joined a company
RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of gipsies, who were drinking and making merry. As the
"flowing bowl" went round, the gipsies began to quarrel
among themselves. The Guidman of Ballangeich tried to
mediate between the brawlers. When about to get the
"reddin' stroke" for his pains, he made himself known.
Tradition fails to tell us what happened ; but the gipsies
doubtless became as harmless in the presence of Royalty as
the doves which " cooed " in the dovecot close by.
The Court Cave, East Wemyss.
The Castle or Well Cave is near the Court Cave. The
first name is given to the cave because of a tradition that
it was connected with the Castle by an underground pass-
age, while it took the second name from a well (the water
of which was said to be a specific for jaundice, which was
situated in one of the corners). In the days of Mr Gibb,
the Castle Cave was annually visited by the young people
THE PARISH OF WEMYS8. 201
of East Wemyss on the first Monday of January, old
style. The young people carried burning torches. Mr
Gibb tried to trace the origin of the New- Year processions,
but even in his day the meaning of the old customs had
been as much forgotten as were the early dwellers in the
The East and the West Dovecot Caves take their
names because they had been utilised as pigeon houses, and
the name Jonathan's Cave had its origin in the fact that a
poor man of the name of Jonathan, and his family, found
a shelter for years in the long, narrow, rugged aperture.
An accidental slip of the land above gave rise to the name
" Sloping Cave," and just beyond the slip there are the
"White Cave" and the " Gas Works Cave." Wyntoun
tells us that the caves were the habitations or retreats of
the monks of early times. Wyntoun was no doubt right,
but the caves take us back to a date long before the days of
the monks the author of the " Originate Cronykle" had in
Professor Sir J. Y. Simpson, when on a visit to
Wemyss in 1865, discovered rude sculpturings on the sides
of some of the caves. The sculpturings resembled exactly
the carvings on certain of the Sculptured Stones of Scot-
land. Here there were figures of animals, there of men,
some of them of peculiar shape, and in other places crosses
of various forms. At two or three points Professor Simp-
son and Dr Joseph Robertson discovered letterings and
symbolic arrangements of figures or hieroglyphics. As long
as the mysterious symbols were found only on sepulchral
monoliths, so long were they supposed to be hieroglyphic
or heraldic funeral inscriptions or emblems ; but this theory
was blown to the winds by the discovery of the markings
202 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
in Wemyss and other caves. And so the symbols of the
Sculptured Stones of Scotland and the caves remain
archaeological enigma. That the Wemyss caves were in-
habited has been demonstrated by the fact that bones of
sheep, deer, oxen, etc., and shells and remains of cereals,
have often been found by searchers after truth. But when
the caves echoed and re-echoed to the feet of men and
women and to the merry voices of children is a matter
which remains in the region of conjecture.
On a bold commanding height above the group of caves
is the fine old ruin which takes the name of Macduff's
Castle. Tradition connects the castle with the noble
Thane, the daring discomtitter of the wicked Macbeth.
The two square towers, which are practically the only
remnants left of the old keep, may not as some authorities
assert belong to eleventh century architecture, but they
at least take us back five, centuries. The Earls of Fife
undoubtedly had a fortress in the district, and the ruins
which stand on the steep and rocky eminence, and which
to-day take the name of Macduff's Castle, may be the
remains of that building or its successor. Prior to the
division of the estates in the middle of the fourteenth
century the Castle was occupied by the successive Lairds
In March 1304 King Edward made a progress through
Fife, and he was the guest for a night and a day of Sir
Michael Wemyss of Wemyss. Two years after, when
King Robert the Bruce came forward in defence of the
Scottish people, Sir Michael joined the patriots. The
actions of Sir Michael gave great offence to Edward, and
he issued orders to the effect that the " manor" where Sir
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
Michael "lay" and "all his other manors should be
burned and his gardens stripped bare." According to
Wyntoun, it was at Wemyss where Randolph Earl of
Moray, the Regent of Scotland, first showed symptoms of
the illness which cut him down in July 1332.
In 1615 the Castle was said to consist of a "laich
cellar," a chamber called the " woman hous," two chambers
Macduff Castle, East Wemyss.
called the " laird's chalmers," the "great chalmer," and the
" keep hous," with houses lying to the " Wester Tower of
East Wemyss, called the bake hous and brew hous." Sir
William Fraser says :
" With the partition of the Wemyss Estates the old Castle
passed into the possession of the Livingstones of Drumry, who
married one of the three co-heiresses of Sir Michael Wemyss of
Wemyss. They obtained the eastern portion of the estate of
204 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Wemyss, on which the Castle stood, and it remained with them
until 1530, when it became the property of the Colvilles, who
sold it in 1630, with the estate, to John first Earl of Wemyss.
This Earl, as if rejoicing in the re acquisition of the ancient strong-
hold of the family, made it his residence for some time during the
remaining period of his life. But his son, David second Earl of
Wemyss, preferred the Castle of West Wemyss."
The Countess of Wemyss, wife of John first Earl of
Wemyss, died at East Wemyss on 17th August 1639. The
Countess of Sutherland, the daughter of the second Earl,
wrote in 1666 from Dunrobin Castle asking her father to
allow her children to reside in the Castle of East Weinyss
because it was feared that a plague would break out in
Edinburgh. This request on the part of Lady Jean
Wemyss proves that the Castle was at least habitable up
to 1666. It must have been after this that the historic
building was allowed to go to decay. At the base of the
cliffs on the beach there is a magnificent dovecot, which
reminds one of the saying common to the Fife laird of old :
" A wee pickle rent, a gey pickle debt, and a doocot."
Wemyss Castle is an imposing and stately building,
which is charmingly situated, commanding a magnificent
view of the Forth and the shores on the south side of the
river. Looking from a point within the shadow of the
ancient keep associated with the name of Macduff, Wemyss
Castle is seen peeping through the trees and "flaunting its
flag," as Mr Geddie says, against the blue sky. How long
a flag has floated in the breeze on the castle it is difficult
to say. The building has undergone a great many changes,
and the older part bears such marks of antiquity that it
carries one's thoughts back to the distant past when the
immediate successors of the Thane of Fife were the
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
superiors of old Wemyss-shire and other lands in the
ancient " Kingdom." The eastern wing is undoubtedly
part of the original stronghold. When it was erected it is
impossible to say, but it is abundantly proved that there
was a castle at Wemyss in the days of Sir John Wemyss
of Reres and Wemyss (1372-1428). On the death of Sir
Michael, the fifth known laird of Wemyss, the estates
were divided between his three daughters as his co-
heiresses. They married into the families of Inchmartin
of Inchmartin, Boswell of Balmuto, and Livingstone of
Drumry. Wemyss-shire, as Sir William Eraser tells us,
ultimately fell to be divided between two of the families,
and the one family took up residence in MacdufPs Castle,
while the other was resident in the manor house.
That Sir John Wemyss of Reres and Wemyss had
a residence at Wemyss is apparent from the fact that
his eldest son, David Wemyss, dates a document from
Wemyss in 1423, and Sir William Fraser found documents
which showed that the Wemyss and the Livingstone
families had their respective manor houses at Wester and
Easter Wemyss in 1428. On the archway leading into the
court of the old portion of the Castle there is an unique
armorial stone. The stone on one side bears two letters
D, and on the sinister side two letters V. The initial
letters are supposed to represent David of Wemyss and his
son David. In a broad margin surrounding the armorial
stone we have the date 1421. En the days of Sir John
Wemyss, in 1430, the Castle is spoken of as " The Manor
of Wemyss." Coining to the days of Sir David Wemyss
of Wemyss (1508-1513), we find the ancient keep referred
to as the "Manor of Wester Wemyss," and in 1570, when
King James the Fourth erected the whole of the estates of
206 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Sir David Into the Barony of Wemyss, the Castle of Wemyss
was assigned as the principal messuage of the new barony.
In the troublous times which existed between 1544
and 1550, Sir John Wemyss of that ilk was a conspicu-
ous figure among the nobles of the time. He was on the
side of the Governor Arran, and in 1547 we find him
and his followers called to the Borders to repel an English
invasion ; but Sir John and his retainers soon returned to
"Wemyss for the defence of the castle and homestead in
case of attack. On the 3rd August 1548, the Queen-
Dowager, Mary of Guise, visited the Castle while on her
way from Edinburgh to St Andrews. The Queen-Regent
died in June 1560, and on 19th August 1561, the young
widowed Queen Mary returned to her kingdom from
France. Between the date of Mary's arrival at Leith and
the beginning of 1565 a good deal of speculation was
indulged in over her probable marriage, and in February
of that year an incident happened at the Castle of Wemyss
which soon set speculation at rest. In January 1565
Mary journeyed to Fife from Edinburgh, and she spent
most of the first month of the year at Falkland and St
Andrews. The Queen's sojourn in the " Kingdom," says
John Knox, " caused wild fowl to be so dear that part-
ridges sold at a crown a piece."
Mary left St Andrews on llth February, and next day
came to Lundie. On the 13th she rode to Wemyss by the
coast, and among those who welcomed the royal party
at the Castle of the " Weeins " was the ill-fated Henry
Stewart, Lord Darnley. The first impressions, says a
certain writer, were "favourable and abiding." The
impressions made during the week's sojourn at Wemyss
were at least favourable, but one can hardly say they were
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 207
abiding. On Mary's return to Edinburgh, Darnley "haunted
the Court." The Queen at first pretended to " disrelish "
a proposal of marriage, and even refused a ring; but by the
20th of July she had created Darnley Duke of Albany,
and on the 29th of the same month the marriage bells
were ringing in Holyrood Palace. On 9th March 1566,
Riccio, the Queen's secretary, was at the instigation of
Darnley done to death in the Queen's chamber.
On 9th February 1567 the town of Edinburgh was early
in the morning alarmed by a loud explosion, the mansion
in which the King lodged had been blown up, and the
remains of the gay young Darnley, who just two years
before had spent a week in Wemyss, were found in a field.
Towards the close of 1586, Christendom in Scotland was
stirred by the Queen being placed upon trial on the
ground of her alleged complicity in Babington's plot for
the assassination of Elizabeth. Events crowded in upon
each other, and in 1587 Mary was executed. Wemyss
Castle is not allowed to forget Mary. A memorial of her
visit remains at the Castle in the form of a sculptured
medallion which was inserted in the front wall. The
picture gallery in the Castle includes a beautiful portrait
of the Queen. Close by the oil-painting of Mary hangs a
portrait of Darnley. Both paintings bear the date 1566.
James VI. was particularly anxious that he and his
Queen, Anne of Denmark, should be well received by the
people of Scotland on the occasion of their marriage. James
wrote to the laird of Wemyss, David Wemyss of Wemyss,
instructing him to receive and entertain them for one
night, Monday, llth May 1590. The reception and the
entertainment seems to have come up to the expectations of
the " Scottish Solomon," for in June of the following year
208 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
his majesty was in Wemyss Castle when the Earl
Marischal, who was in disgrace, came to the " Kingdom "
to try to make peace with the king. David the second
Earl of Wemyss had the honour of being one of the
Parliamentary Commissioners who, in 1650, welcomed
Charles II. at Falkland. Charles reached Falkland on 6th
July, and on the 12th he dined with the Earl of Wemyss
at Wemyss Castle. Lamont chronicles the event in these
words : " The tyme that he abode at Falklande he went
downe one day and dyned at the E. of Wemyss' house."
Charles was crowned king at Scono on 1st January 1651,
and shortly afterwards he made a progress through Fife to
visit the fortifications of the Forth. From Stirling he
reached Burntisland on 12th February, and on the follow-
ing day rode to Wemyss Castle, where he passed the night.
David the second Earl of Wemyss made enormous ex-
tensions to the Castle in 1669-70. The additions included a
dining-room, a drawing-room, two bed-chambers, and two
closets. On the 22nd October 1670 the armorial bearings
of the Earl and Countess, their names, and the year 1670,
were cut on a stone, which was built in the addition to the
Castle. " Ther's nothing mor requisitte about any family
than good watter," says Earl David, and he proceeds to
narrate the steps he took to ensure good supplies of water
in the " tu walles (wells) in the outter close of the Castle."
David third Earl of Wemyss added to the amenities of the
Castle, and in 1756 his son James, the fourth Earl, worked
out many improvements. General Wemyss of Wemyss,
grandson of the fourth Earl, made additions and built the
stables, which are of a classic style of architecture, and
which stand on a site on the face of the hill to the north
of the Castle.
THE PAUISH OF WKMYSS.
Adn)iral Wemyss and Mr Hay Erskine Wemyss carried
out extensions and improvements. After the death of
Mr Hay Erskine Wemyss, his widow, in conjunction
with her son, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss, the present laird,
had a good many changes made. A new saloon and en-
trance hall were built. The great hall of the Castle has
recently been restored by Mr Wemyss, and much has been
done for the gardens and grounds. A barrel -vaulted room
on the ground floor has been converted into a chapel
which takes the name of the Saint Mary, Star of the Sea
Chapel. Services are conducted regularly by the Rev. A.
T. Grant, the chaplain (who has done invaluable work in
historical research bearing on Fife and other counties), and
210 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMY8S.
the public are admitted by the lower doorway. A silver
plate on the splay of the first window bears the following
" Saint Mary, Star of the Sea, at the Wemyss. To the Glory
of God. In memory of Milicent Mary Kennedy Erskine, wife of
James Hay Wemyss of Wemyss. Born xi. May 1831 ; dying at
home, xi. Feby. 1895, near midnight. This chapel for her dear sake
is dedicated to the service of God by her surviving children, Mary,
Randolph, Hvgo, Rosslyn. ' For where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also.' Dedicated 18 September 1897, by George
Howard, Lord Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane."
In the chapel, which is lit throughout by candles, there
are many architectural and other features which are in-
teresting. One of the most noteworthy features is the
recumbent marble statue of the late Mrs Wemyss, to
whose memory the chapel is dedicated. The statue is the
work of Princess Louise, the Duchess of Argyle. Above
the statue are the following :
" Sleepe after toyle ;
Port after stormie seas ;
Ease after warre ;
Death after life, does greatly please."
THE VILLAGE OF EAST WEMYSS.
The old village of East Weinyss lies snugly in a creek
between Macduff and Wemyss Castles. The new East
Wemyss, which has sprung into existence in recent years,
lies on the higher slopes by the Lappy and the Den burns,
and which afford shelter from the north to the white-
washed h&uses which form the "auld toon." In the olden
time the roar of the sea just over the big wall had
accompaniments in the shape of the click of the weaver's
shuttle and the rattle of the hand loom To-day there is
not a hand loom at work in the parish, and if the curious
want to peep at a spinning wheel or a reel, they must go
to a drawing-room, where the furniture of a decayed art
looks much out of place, or to the shop of a collector of
that which is antique. Although the hand loom is as
silent as the blowers in the " Glass Cove," it is pleasant to
be able to state that through the enterprise of Messrs
Johnston, whose steam factory is well employed, the village
is what the artist would speak of as "A study in black
and white" coals and linen. An old miner used to speak
of the chemiss splint coal as a "jet black coal," and time
was when linen, after it came from the bleach works which
from time immemorial have flourished on the banks of the
Leven, was spoken of in East Wemyss as being "as white
as the driven snaw."
The Barony of Easter Wemyss.
Sir Michael Wemyss of Wemyss, who died between
1342 and 1346, left no surviving male issue, and his pos-
212 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
sessions were divided among his daughters, three in
number. The dividing of the estates among the daughters
led to the distinction between East and West Wemyss.
One of the daughters married a Livingstone of Drumry.
It was in 1508 that King James IV. created the lands of
East Wemyss and part of Lochoreshire into the barony of
East Wemyss, with the manor of East Wemyss as the
principal messuage, in favour of Sir Robert Livingstone of
Drumry. Sir Robert's daughter, Margaret Livingstone,
who is lovingly spoken of as the " Lady of East .Wemyss,''
married Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, the architect of
Falkland Palace. After Hamilton had obtained Easter
Wemyss he exchanged it in 1530 with Sir James Colville
of Ochiltree for his barony and Castle of Ochiltree in Ayr-
shire. Sir James thus became Colville of Easter Wemyss.
The new owner of Easter Wemyss was attainted of treason,
and in 1540, after his death, his lands were forfeited.
Three years afterwards, however, they were restored to his
son, who attained distinction in the French wars, and in
1598 was created Lord Colville of Culross. He was suc-
ceeded by his grandson, James, second Lord Colville, at
whose death in 1640 the lands of Easter Wemyss were
purchased by Sir John, the first Earl of Wemyss, and re-
united to the barony of Wemyss. The lands of Easter
Wemyss were therefore exactly a century in the hands of
the Colville family. David the second Earl of Wemyss
received a Crown charter of the lands consolidating them
into the single Barony of Wemyss.
The Established Church.
The Established Church of East Wemyss has a long
history . Sir John of Methil and Wemyss, son of Michael,
who makes his first appearance historically as a witness to
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
a charter in 1202, conveys certain lands to the monks of
May on behalf of the souls of himself, liis father, mother,
wife, son, and others. Sir John also, according to the
custom of the times, enriched the Hospital of Soltre or
Soutra, a small religious house on a ridge of the Lammer-
moors, by conveying to the master and brethren there, on
behalf of his own soul and the souls of ^Earl Duncan and
others, all his rights in the Church of St Mary of Werayss,
Established Church, East Wemyss.
to be held as alms for the benefit of the poor in the
Hospital of Soutra. Sir William Eraser states that the
charter was not dated, but he argues from other evidence
that it must have been granted about 1239. In 1261 the
Bishop of St Andrews confirms the charter, and provides
for an honourable sustenance to the vicar who served the
church of Wemyss on behalf of the brethren of Soutra, and
for the payment of a pension due annually by the church
214 RAMBLES IN 8COONIE AND WEMYSS.
of Wemyss to the Dysart church. In 1321 Sir David
Wemyss confirmed the charter, and granted the brethren
or their men power to make malt and to sell it.
Sir William Fraser records an appearance of Sir John
Wemyss, in the Parish Church of Wemyss, in connection
with certain lands. A Church dispute of considerable
interest is recorded as having occurred in the days of the
first David of Wemyss, in 1527. .It appears that a
dispute had arisen between Sir David and Sir John
Dingwall, who held the double office of Provost of Trinity
College, Edinburgh, and vicar of the Parish Church of
Wemyss. The fishermen of East Wemyss and Buckhaven
joined the Laird and were parties to the action. Contrary
to the practice of the times, Sir John Dingwall made an
appeal to the Court of Rome. For this " contumacy" the
judges gave judgment in favour of Sir David Wemyss and
his fishermen friends, and under pain of excommunication
the Provost- Vicar was called upon to pay the costs of the
plea, 99 8s 8d Scots. The sentence was announced
during High Mass in the church of Wemyss, in presence of
the parishioners. Among the parishioners the sentence
was received with joy ; but Sir John Dingwall did not
repent of " contumacy," and he was excommunicated for
his pains. A settlement of the dispute was ultimately
effected, however, by arbitration. And in connection with
the finding of the arbiters it is interesting to note that the
vicar was advised to yield up the offerings due to him from
St Mary's Chapel, because the Parish Church of Wemyss
was being "built or repaired by Sir Patrick Jackson, the
chaplain." Here in 1528 we have a specific statement
showing that the church, which probably dated back to
the days of David I., was being practically re-built.
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 215
It may be interesting to state that the Hospital of
Soutra was in 1462 annexed by the Queen of James II. to
Trinity College Church, Edinburgh, which thus acquired
the kirk and kirk-lands of Wemyss. After the Reforma-
tion of 1560, Trinity College Church was bestowed on the
city of Edinburgh, and the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and
other representatives became the patrons and titulars of
the teinds. The sub-Committee of the Presbytery of
Kirkcaldy commuted the payment in victual into money
West Wemyss paying 748 10s 8d Scots, and East
Wemyss, 607 18s 8d of the total, which was to be col-
lected by the Laird of Wemyss. 800 merks went to the
minister and 800 to the Town Council of Edinburgh. In
1650 the stipend was raised to 1200 merks. Sir John,
Earl of Wemyss, was at this time an uncompromising
Presbyterian, and united with his fellow-countrymen in
opposing King Charles' attempt to force Episcopacy on the
The church at East Wemyss was much improved in
1792. Writing in 1794, the Rev. George Gibb gives us the
following glimpse at Church affairs in the parish :
" The stipend, as settled by the Court of Session in February
1794, is 50 of money, 64 bolls of meal, 32 bolls of bear, and
5 11s l^d for furnishing communion elements. The manse was
built in 1791, and to the honour of the heritor is one of the best in
the country. . . . The glebe contains between eight and nine
acres. There are some rocks and seaweed which belong to the
minister, and as this property is near the glebe, it is of great
advantage for manure. For the kelp from the rocks the present
incumbent has received about 5 5s every three years.''
Writing in 1838, the Rev. John M'Lachlan says :
" The church has sittings for about 1000 persons. It is far too
small for the parish. From 900 to 1000 communicate annually.
The people are very attentive to the ordinances of religion. The
216 RAMI3LES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
stipend is 17 chalders, half meal and half barley, converted at the
rate of the highest fiars of the county, with 10 for communion
elements. There are some rocks and seaweed or ware that belong
to the cure."
Recently the church was re-seated. A handsome pipe-
organ has been introduced, and the baptismal font, the
communion table, and other furnishings, are extremely
handsome. There are as many as 620 names on the com-
The present manse was built in 1791. The manse of the
olden time stands immediately behind the dwelling of to-
day, the date stone showing that it was built in 1673.
The Kirk Session records date without a break back to
1645. The communion vessels are as interesting as the
records. There are two silver mazers and four communion
cups. The mazers are 9 inches in height and 8| inches in
diameter at the mouth, and the cups are 10 inches by 4f .
The following is a copy of the inscriptions :
MAZEKS (1.) Given by The Countes of Leven to the Kirk of
Weyms, Anno 1673. (2.) Given by My Lord Bruntisland to the
Kirk of Weyms, Anno 1673.
CUPS (1.) Given by the Countess of Wemysse to the Kirk of
Wemysse, 1673. (2.) Given by the Countess of Wemysse to the
Kirk of Wemysse, 1673. (3.) Given by My Lady Bruntiland to
the Kirk of The Wemysse, 1673. (4.) Given by Master James
Nairn, to the Kirk of Wemysse, 1673.
There are four flagons, which bear the date 1794, and
two pewter salvers dated 1799.
The Ministers of the Parish.
After the Reformation, the parish was first supplied by
John Bousie, reader. He was in the parish from 1576 to 1680.
John Tullus, the natural nephew of Mr Andrew Binnet,
minister of Moninmil, and reader at Foules-Wester, took
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 217
up duty in the parish about 1585. Mr Tullus was granted
a certain sum out of the rent of Trinity College, on con-
dition that Mr Robert Pont, who was stated to have the
" haill rent of the Provostry," paid the other half of the
stipend. As a minister Mr Tullus is stated to have been
" weak," but he held the post despite his weakness until
he died in June 1636. Patrick Mearns, a graduate of St
Andrews University, took up duty for Mr Tullus. He
was presented by the Town Council of Edinburgh. He
was admitted on 8th September 1636, but had only been
in the parish fifteen months when he died "ane young
The godly George Gillespie followed. Gillespie, who
was the son of the Rev. John Gillespie, the minister of
Kirkcaldy, was born in 1613. He was presented to
Wemyss on 5th January 1638, and on the llth of the
same month the Archbishop of St Andrews wrote asking
the Moderator to try the new minister. The Moderator
was not prepared to usurp the functions of the Presbytery
at the dictation of the Archbishop, and he advised the
brethren to " prescrybe ane text" to Gillespie "to teach"
in Kirkcaldy. On the 18th January he preached, and,
says Scott in his "Fasti," "got the usual testimonial."
Instead of being admitted by the Archbishop he was
ordained by the Presbytery, and the Covenant was signed
by all the ministers present. Through Gillespie's ordina-
tion Wemyss had the honour conferred upon it of having
the second minister in Scotland who was ordained, after
Episcopacy was established, without the countenance of
the Archbishop. Six months after his ordination to
Wemyss he was also presented to Methil by David Lord
218 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
At the age of 24, while a tutor to James Lord Kennedy,
Mr Gillespie wrote a book which bore the title, " A Dis-
pute against the English Popish Ceremonies obtruded on
the Church of Scotland." The ordination at Wemyss of
the author of the book was noised abroad, and in ISTovem-
ber 1838, the very month he combined the duties of the
minister of Methil with those of Wemyss, he was chosen
to preach before the memorable Assembly of the Church of
Scotland in Glasgow. Baillie says : " In his sermon the
youth very learnedly and judiciously, as they say, handled
the words 'The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord.' "
Gillespie thereafter became chaplain to the army of Cove-
nanters, and was a Commissioner from the Church of
Scotland to the Westminster Assembly of Divines, who
were appointed to draw up the Shorter Catechism. At
Westminster he acquitted himself as well as he did at
Glasgow. Apparently overlooking the fact that a defini-
tion of God had hundred of years before been given by
Christ in the words, " God is a spirit," the divines were
completely nonplussed when they came to give their minds
to the question, " What is God ? " Gillespie was asked to
pray for guidance, and he began his prayer by addressing
God "as a spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His
being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and
truth." The Westminster divines were struck with the
terms of the prayer, and at once accepted them as a defini-
tion of the question, " What is God ?"
In 1641 the minister of Wemyss was called to Aber-
deen, but his removal to the Granite City was prevented
by a majority in the Assembly. At the same time, it was
thought that he would be a good man for St Andrews, but
the prosecution of a call to the "City by the Sea" was
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 219
discouraged. In 1642 he had a pension bestowed upon
him by His Majesty, and then came his translation to Old
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh. In 1647 he was selected
to succeed Alexander Henderson in the High Church, but
here his labours were soon ended. On 17th December
1648 he died in the 36th year of his age and the eleventh
year of his ministry. So ended the life of one of the most
brilliant stars associated with the Church of Scotland in
far off days. The Apostle James compares life to a vapour
that appeareth for a little time and then vanishes away.
Gillespie's life was a very short one, but before he vanished
from the courts of the Assembly of the Church of Scotland
he left on record something which was more enduring than
a vapour :
' ' One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name."
Some other Hinisters.
Gillespie was succeeded by Harie Wilkie, who was
translated from the little parish of Portmoak, on the banks
of Loch Leven, at the earnest desire of John Earl of
Wemyss, on 19th October 1642. Scott tells us that
Wilkie was a "little, knackity (self-conceited) body." He
was challenged before the Synod on September 1657 for
certain speeches he had made which were not seemly, and
for things done at a daughter's marriage, but the "knackity
body" was acquitted. He died on 7th October 1664.
James Nairne, an A.M. from Bolton, was admitted on
31st May 1665. He was a learned man, and was offered
a bishopric in 1671, but refused it. He demitted his
charge in 1678, and died in July following. He is
written of as "the most eloquent of all our preachers, and
a person of very considerable learning " ; but with all his
220 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
learning he does not seem to have been very sound in the
faith, for he was "inclinable to Pelagian tenets." The
school of Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin.
Nairue bequeathed his library to the University of Edin-
burgh. Alexander Monro came next, from the parish of
Kinglassie. He was admitted in June 1678. Like his
predecessor, he was a man of considerable learning. In
1682 he was appointed Professor of Divinity in the Uni-
versity of St Andrews, and accordingly demitted his
charge in Werayss. Alexander Lundie, A.M., who came
from Carnbee, was admitted on 14th May 1683. Within
three years he was translated to Cupar, and made way for
Alexander Ker, an A.M. of St Andrews, who took up
duty in Wemyss on 8th September 1686. He was de-
prived of the living by Privy Council on 29th August
1689. He was succeeded by William Tullidaff, A.M.,
formerly of Kilbirnie, and then came the following minis-
ters : Archibald Riddell, A.M., from Kippen, 26th Sep-
tember 1691, translated to Kirkcaldy, January 1697 ;
Thomas Black, from Strathmiglo, 1697 to 1698; James
Grierson, September 1698 to May 1710; John Cleghorn,
A.M., from Burntisland, February 1711 to July 1744,
when he died, aged 65 years.
Harry Spens, an A.M. of King's College, Aberdeen,
succeeded Cleghorn. He was ordained in November 1 744,
had the degree of D.D. conferred upon him by his Alma
Mater in October 1761, and was elected Moderator of the
General Assembly on 25th May 1780 by a majority of 112
votes against 106 cast for Sir Henry Moncrieff of Well-
wood, Bart. In October of the same year he was admitted
Professor of Divinity in St Mary's College, St Andrews,
and forthwith demitted his charge in Wemyss. Spens
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 221
died in 1787, aged 73 years. It is 125 years since Spens
preached his farewell sermon in Wemyss, and yet his
memory is held in loving remembrance in the parish, be-
cause of the attitude he adopted towards a slave who had
come with his master to Methil. [This incident was
referred to at length under the Methil notes.] William
Greenfield, who came to the parish in September 1781, had
only been three years in the district when he was called to
his native city, Edinburgh. George Gibb, the writer of the
article on Wemyss in the " Old Statistical Account of
Scotland," was the next minister. He was ordained on
31st March 1785, and remained in Wemyss until he died,
llth April 1818. The Rev. John M'Lauchlan, who writes
on Wemyss in the "New Statistical Account," was pre-
sented by the Town Council of Edinburgh on July 1818
and admitted in February of the following year. He died
on 13th February 1850 in the 65th year of his age, and
37th of his ministry. Mr M'Lauchlan was succeeded by
Mr Wm. Poison, M.A., who laboured in the parish for 43
years from 1850 to 1893. Mr Poison's remains were
interred in the cemetery under the shadow of the ruins of
the old castle of the parish in which he had toiled so long.
The Rev. John Kennedy, the present pastor, was a
student of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, and is an
M.A., B.D. He was licensed as a preacher by the Presby-
tery of St Andrews, and in 1892 took up duty as an
assistant in Kirkcaldy. Mr Kennedy was ordained to the
parish of Wemyss in 1894.
The United Free Church.
The United Free Church congregation of the village of
East Wemyss sprang into existence in connection with the
Disruption of 1843. The church and the manse stand on
222 RAMBLES IN SCOONIB AND WEMYSS.
the ground of the " Haugh," with a magnificent view of
the Forth and the southern shores. The " Haugh " is
historic ground. In the days of the godly Geo. Gillespie
it formed the glebe of the Parish Church. In the Dis-
ruption wave of 1843, when difficulties were being ex-
perienced in many parishes over the procuring of sites for
churches, Mrs Swan, the mother of the late ex-Provost
Swan of Kirkcaldy, proved a friend to the newly-formed
congregation of East Wemyss, who first met in a hay loft
above a stable. She owned the " Haugh," and at once
placed a site for the church and manse at the disposal of
the Dissenters. Adherents of the cause led by Dr
Chalmers joined the congregation, from Methil on the
east to West Wemyss on the west, and when the new
church was opened in the summer of 1844, the members
and adherents numbered as many as 600. The Rev. John
M'Lauchlan, the minister of the parish, chose to remain in
the Establishment, and the congregation called the Rev.
George F. Knight, who had for twelve years been a
parish minister in Berwickshire. The choice was an
exceedingly happy one. Mr Knight was a man of
scholarly attainments, and being blessed with a store of
excellent health, he did splendid work in the parish for
well nigh half a century. The increasing burden of years
led him to ask a colleague and successor in the summer of
1881, and in August of that year a colleague in the person
of the Rev. L. A. Muirhead, M.A., B.D., took up duty.
Mr Knight died in 1891, and his remains found a fitting
resting place in the cemetery of the parish in which he had
toiled so long and so faithfully. The stone which marks
his grave bears the following inscription :
" In memory of George Fulton Knight, for 12 years minister of
the parish of Modington, Berwickshire, and for 47 years minister
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 223
of the Free Church of Wemyss, Fifeshire. Born at Edinburgh,
April 1808 ; died at Manchester, February 1891."
Mr Knight has a gifted family. Mr W. Knight, St
Andrews, professor and author, is one of his sons; Rev.
George Knight, of Glasgow, is another, while a third son
has attained distinction in medicine. Mr Muirheadwas
called to St Luke's, Broughty Ferry, in 1893. He is the
author of " The Times of Christ," " Eschatology of Jesus,"
and other works, and in March 1905 he had the honorary
degree of D.D. conferred upon him by the University of St
Andrews. Mr J. C. B. Geddes, who was an assistant in
Free St George's, Edinburgh, succeeded Dr Muirhead.
Mr Geddes was ordained in May 1893. He accepted a call
to Largs in 1901. The Rev. R. H. Strachan, M.A., was
ordained in June 1901, and after a ministry of three years
he accepted a call to the United Free Church, Elie, which
is one of the prizes in the " Kingdom." The Rev. G. D.
Low, the present minister, was ordained to the charge in
August 1904. Mr Low is a graduate of Edinburgh Uni-
versity. On leaving the Hall he went to St Petersburg
and laboured as an assistant in the British-American
Church there. On his return to Scotland, he accepted an
assistantship at Moffat, and was fulfilling the duties of
assistant at Gullane when he was called to East Wemyss.
A Famous Schoolmaster.
In 1748, in the days of James fourth Earl of Wemyss,
and the stirring times which followed the Rebellion of
1745, John Grub was appointed schoolmaster of the parish
school of East Wemyss. Just after his appointment Mr
Grub had the misfortune to be struck on one of his
knees by a golf ball. A white swelling supervened, and
the schoolmaster of Wemyss was compelled to submit to the
224 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
loss of his leg. Upon his recovery he proposed to the
young lady who had nursed him through his illness, was
accepted, and she proved a dutiful and loving wife. The
loss of a limb did not impair Mr Grub's usefulness as a
teacher. Within a few years his fame as a teacher had
gone beyond the bounds of the parish, and in addition to a
large attendance at the school, he had many young men
boarders from, says his biographer, " many respectable
families in different parts of the country." In seven short
years the school " had risen to a very great character " and
was spoken of as a "Grammar School." In 1755, when Mi-
Grub was in the height of his fame, he was smitten down
by a fever and died. He had only seen thirty summers.
His biographer says :
" Mr Grub's character made his death very much to be re-
gretted by all the people of the parish of Wemyss, by all his
scholars, and by all that knew him. Ho left behind him a discon-
solate widow to lament his death, and a young son. His widow
afterwards went to the village of Leven, and survived her husband
it is not certain how many years ; and Robert Grub, their son, on
recommendation, having gone to settle in the West Indies, died at
St Kitts under or about twenty years of age."
Mr Grub had many merits as a teacher. He made
elocution a special feature, and his exhibitions on Shrove
Tuesday and at the closing examinations for the harvest
holidays became so famous in the " Kingdom " that educa-
tionists from all parts of the district flocked to East
Wemyss to be present at the "literary entertainments."
In addition to teaching the pupils the "Three R's," Mr
Grub prepared " orations " for the higher classes on various
themes. The pupils got the " orations " by heart, and at
the harvest vacation they mounted the teacher's desk, and
delivered the speeches. Mr Grub's custom was to prepare
three "orations" upon any specified subject. The first
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 225
speaker presented the case for reform, or in support of any
good principle, the second presented a different view, and
the third supported the first speaker. In the three
" orations " on " cock-fighting " delivered on 6th February
1753, we have interesting glimpses at the school customs
of the eighteenth century in the parish of Wemyss. In
the first " oration " we are told that from time immemorial
it had been the custom in Wemyss to make one day in the
year remarkable for the inhuman practice of " bringing
many of the noblest of the feathered creation to a lingering
and cruel death." The young orator in Wemyss School
accordingly moves a motion to the effect that although
cock-fighting was riot so " savage and barbarous as throw-
ing cocks," yet it should be discouraged at our schools.
The pupil who replies argues strongly in favour of the
schoolboys' " diversion on Fasterns E'en." When a cock
fought well it, " raised the noble ambition in youth." It
was, he further said, an " old custom of the school," and
should be kept up. The pupil who wound up the debate
argued for a more noble diversion than that of cock-
fighting, and under Mr Grub the abominable practice was
abolished, and in the school of East Wemyss Shrove
Tuesday became as notable for its " literary contests " as it
had been for cock-fighting.
Shrove Tuesday, it may be interesting to state, was so
called from being anciently associated with priestly absolu-
tion. The day immediately precedes the commencement
of Lent, and in Scotland it was known as Fasterns E'en,
that is, Fasting Eve. The mode of observing the day
differed very much throughout Scotland. At Stirling the
young people procured eggs, which in the morning they
coloured with devices, and in the evening they met in the
226 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
fields and there boiled and consumed the eggs. In the
Border towns the day is to this day set aside for hand-ball,
and time was when the married women challenged the
spinsters in a game at football. In many places cock-
fighting was the sport indulged it. According to Dr
Rogers, we have the Duke of York to thank for having in
1681 introduced cock-fighting into Scotland. To the
village schoolroom every youth, from an early period of the
eighteenth century to its close, bore a cock which had
been reared for the Fastern E'en struggle. The school-
masters presided. The birds which fell in the conflicts
were assigned to the teacher as a perquisite, and the poor
" fugies " which refused to fight, and displayed more sense
than the people who cast them into the cockpits, were also
claimed as the master's property. Although Mr Grub
succeeded in abolishing cock-fighting at East Wemyss
school, the barbarous sport was continued by adults in the
parish, and indeed throughout Fife, until about the middle
of the nineteenth century.
History of the Linen Industry.
Away back about 250 years ago, almost every sub-
stantial family in the parish made a few pieces of good
linen annually from yarn of their own spinning. Some of
the goods were appropriated for the use of the families,
and the surplus goods were sent to the fairs in the parishes
of Wemyss and Scoonie, and there found a ready market.
About 1740 there were five fishing boats with five men in
each at East Wemyss. By 1790 four of the boats had
vanished, and only one was at work. This was due to the
fact that in 1750 fishing was practically dropped in the
village, and the manufacture of linen became the staple
industry. That the people of East Wemyss plied the
THE PARISH OP WEMY8S. 227
shuttle to some purpose will be apparent when it is stated
that in 1807, when the Board of Trustees offered prizes
for the best and second best raven-duck, harn-shirting,
huckaback, diaper, and plain linen, quite an army of
weavers entered the competition from the village of East
Wemyss, and as many as five of them carried off prizes.
Noted as it was for linen, only three prizes went to Dun-
fermline, and two to the great city of Edinburgh, whose
Drumsheugh works were then known throughout Scotland.
The decision of the Board of Trustees corroborated the
claim made in 1790 for East Wemyss linen by the minister
of the parish. The Rev. George Gibb says :
" The linen now made is generally well known for its quality
and fineness. Most of it is made from Scotch flax, the greatest
part of which is spun in the parish. It is thought by manu-
facturers to be superior to any in the country. . . . There are
about 120 looms employed."
Messrs James & George Johnston commenced business
in the village of East Wemyss in 1828, and for many years
they had looms at work in the parish of Wemyss and
adjoining parishes. Carts were sent round the shops daily
and collected the goods as they were cut from the looms.
The Messrs Johnston soon built up a splendid business,
but by 1850 " changing shadows" had begun to hang like
a funeral pall over the handloom industry. At Dunferm-
line, at Dundee, and Kirkland large handloom factories
had been built, and this was doing away with the system
of the toiler sitting at his own loom, under his own vine
and under his own tig tree, and this system was followed
by the introduction of the power-loom. As the power-
loom became perfected, loom after loom in the little red-
roofed shops was stopped, and by 1858 many of the old
228 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMY8S.
weavers in Fife had begun to look upon the fittings of
their shops as the "four stoops of misery." In 1859 the
Messrs Johnston had something like 200 handlooms at
work in East Wemyss and elsewhere ; but they were men
who were fully alive to the necessity for a change, and in
1860 they opened the power-loom linen works which are
situated on the Haugh. At first 100 looms were set in
motion ; but as time wore on an additional 100 looms
were fitted up. The success of the power-loom gradually
brought about the annihilation of the hand-loom, and the
loom-shops of other days have all been turned into dwel-
ling-houses. Mr George Johnston died in 1874, and Mr
James Johnston in 1876. The founders were succeeded
by the two sons of the latter, Mr James W. Johnston and
Mr W. Russell Johnston, and the partnership of the
brothers of to-day has in every respect been as happy as
that of the founders. Mr James W. Johnston is chairman
of the School Board of the parish. He joined the
Volunteers in 1860, and as Lieutenant, Captain, Major,
and Lieutenant-Colonel, he has done as much for the
citizen army movement in the district as he has done for
education. In connection with the Volunteer Review of
September 1905 Colonel Johnston had the honour of
having the Royal Victorian Order conferred upon him by
the King. Mr W. Russell Johnston has represented the
Eastern Division of Wemyss in the County Council since
1898, and a splendid representative he makes.
Mining in the District.
In the olden time, when the successive lords of the
manor carried on mining and salt-manufacturing at West
Wemyss and Methil, East Wemyss, like Buckhaven,
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 229
stood a village apart. Comparatively few of the residents
of East Wemyss took up raining. With the opening of
the Rosie pit of Muiredge Colliery, nearly twenty years
ago, and latterly the sinking of the Michael shafts by
the Wemyss Coal Company, the whole aspect of things
changed. Miners began to take up residence in East
Wemyss, and during the past decade the old-world village
has been completely surrounded by new houses. The
population of the village had risen from 1010 in 1891 to
2522 in 1901, and a census to-day would show a popula-
tion of at least 3000 souls.
Time was when ale was the general drink of the
people of Scotland, and in the royal burghs and burghs
of barony there were no more prosperous class than the
brewers. From time immemorial there has been a brewery
at East Wemyss. Mr Gibb, writing in 1794, says :
" A gentleman in East Wemyss, who carries on a considerable
brewery, lately began to import wood from the Baltic, which has
been a great advantage to the neighbourhood."
Like the fishing arid the handloom industries, the im-
portation of wood at East Wemyss has ceased, but the
brewery still remains. Nearly 100 years ago it fell into
the hands of the Eddington family, and 70 years ago the
brewery was acquired by two brothers, James and George
Brown, the one taking up duty at East Wemyss and the
other at Leven. In the hands of the two brothers the
businesses increased, and the sparkling Wemyss ales
became famous in and outside the county of Fife. The
remains of the founders of the firm of 70 years ago lie in
the cemetery which overlooks the brewery, but as a firm
230 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
J. & G. Brown still exists, the business being carried on
at Wemyss and Leven by Mr George Brown, sen., and Mr
George Brown, jun., a son and grandson of one of the
founders. The brewers of to-day have recently made
considerable extensions to the buildings, and despite the
keen competition of the times the Wemyss ale still holds
its own in the market.
The Hall and the Reading=Room.
Undoubtedly one of the most interesting modern
buildings in the village is the hall and reading-room.
One of the young orators of Mr John Grub, the famous
eighteenth century teacher, speaking in East Wemyss
school at the Shrove Tuesday demonstration of February
1753 to the parents of the village, says :
"I lay hold of this opportunity, in the name of all my school-
fellows, to return you our most hearty thanks for your generosity
in contributing last year in so handsome a manner for a public
library to our school."
The library established in 1752 in the village was
appreciated by the parents as well as the children, and
the demand for books among the handloom weavers was
such that in 1817 a subscription library was founded. A
tradesmen's library was opened in 1830. In 1859 a reading
room was opened, and in this room the books of the other
libraries were ultimately brought together. The old read-
ing-room had completely burst its bounds in the early
nineties, and the late Dr Edward A. Watson commenced
an agitation for the erection of a public hall, library, and
recreation rooms. The old reading-room was deserted in
November 1900, and the new building taken possession
of. The following is a copy of an inscription on a marble
tablet in the hall :
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 231
" Erected by public subscription, in grateful recognition of the
professional ability and public services of Edward A. Watson,
M.D., for 28 years physician in Wemyss Parish. Born 8th May
1837 ; died 5th March 1897."
It was chiefly by his efforts that funds were attained for
the erection of the hall.
THE BURGH OF BARONY OF WEST WEMYSS.
Writing in 1859, Farnie says : "West Wemyss is a
burgh of barony, and is governed by two bailies, a trea-
surer, and a council." The town still prides itself on being
a burgh of barony, and in possessing magistrates ; but in
recent years the old Council has been gradually stripped of
its powers, and the bodies responsible for the government
of West Wemyss are the Fife County Council, Wemyss
School Board, and Wemyss Parish Council.
As time passes, the tendency is to move the coal works
eastwards, and while East Wemyss, Buckhaven, and the
Methil of other days are being surrounded by new towns,
the streets of " Barncraig " remain much as they were a
century ago. The Windy Wynd, the Haw Head, the
Cox'el, arid the Poun's are still with us, and at one or
other of the respective rendezvous g? - oups of residents
gather as in days of yore and discuss the local and
imperial problems of the day. As in the days when
Gabriel Setoun wrote " Barncraig," women emerge from
their doorways and "sincl" their teapots, and on the
Saturdays the outside stairs and the doorsteps are as
much scrubbed and "sanded" for the Sunday as they
were a century ago.
In 1791 the population of West Wemyss was 769
209 more than East Wemyss, 169 more than Buckhaven,
THE PARISH OF WEMY88. 233
and more than the double of Methil. The following table
shows the census of the old hurgh from 1821 :
1821 502 1871 1231
1831 858 1881 - 1206
1841 947 1891 1300
1851 1013 1901 - 1253
1861 - ^1128
When created a Barony Burgh.
David of Wemyss received the honour of knighthood
in 1510, and the following year King James IV. erected
the lands of West Wemyss into the barony of Wemyss.
The charter gave power to constitute the haven town of
Wemyss as a burgh under the lords of the manor. In
1515, Sir David granted the burgesses the usual privileges
of a burgh of the olden time, and among the privileges
enumerated were two fairs a year, one on 2nd July and
the other on 20th October. The Castle of Wemyss was
ordained to be the principal messuage of the barony of
In 1589, James VI. confirmed the barony of Wemyss
in favour of John Wemyss, eldest son of David Wemyss
of that ilk, enlarging the barony so as to include the
other lands which had been acquired in 1511. In 1630
Sir John Wemyss acquired the barony of East Wemyss,
and in 1651, in the days of Charles II., David second
Earl of Wemyss obtained a charter erecting the baronies
of East Wemyss, West Wemyss, and Methil into the
barony of Wemyss, with the tower, fortalice, and manor-
place of Wemyss as the principal messuage of the whole.
This charter was ratified by the King and Parliament in
1661. The reinstatement of the bishops brought changes,
however, and for some time Methil was separated from
234 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
the barony of Wemyss, and under a charter granted by
Archbishop Sharpe enjoyed a species of home rule. After
the Revolution another Act affecting Wemyss was passed,
and in 1711, in the days of David third Earl of Wemyss
the three baronies were included in one holding to such
an extent that one sasine taken at the manor-place of
West Wemyss or upon any part of the Wemyss lands
sufficed for the whole.
In 1592 West Wemyss ranked among the burghs along
the shores of the Forth as a place where proclamation
might be made at its market cross of an Act warning
seamen and others against the killing of solan geese upon
the Bass Rock. The burgh had its tolbooth where the
lord of the manor held his baronial courts and meted out
justice to offenders. Sir William Fraser points out, how-
ever, that serious cases were sometimes disposed of by
friendly arbitration outside the walls of the tolbooth, and
he gives an illustration by giving the details connected
with the "hushing up" of one offence. In March 1586-7
the burgh was thrown into a terrible state of consterna-
tion and excitement. A burgess named James Skadowie
had in the course of a quarrel struck a resident named
William Ferrar. Ferrar died from the blow. Skadowie
had only acted in self-defence, and on his agreeing to
pay compensation to the relatives of the dead man the
"mother and rest of kin" agreed to forgive and "remit
the slaughter." A document embodying the agreement
was drawn up, and was attested by a bailie of the burgh
In 1666 West Wemyss was a burgh which was allowed
to hold six annual fairs a year and a weekly market on
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS.
the Fridays. About 1590 the burgh attained to an un-
fortunate notoriety among the seaport towns of Scotland.
It was the doorway by which the country experienced a
new visit of the plague. The plague had been raging in
England. An infected English barque entered the harbour
of West Wemyss, and in a short time the plague was
The Tolbooth, Wemyss.
ravaging the residents of the burghs and villages along
the whole coast of the " Kingdom."
236 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
The Remains of St Mary's Chapel.
The history of the ivy-clad ruins of the Lady Chapel
in the Chapel Gardens, which have now become the last
resting-place of the Wemyss family, goes back to the days
when the monks of Dunferinliue were getting coals in the
" heughs " of Pittencrieff and distributing the " black
stanes" among the poor at the church doors. In 1536
Sir Patrick Jackson was chaplain of Sc Mary's Chapel at
Wester Wemyss. Sir Patrick spent 1000 on the chapel
and manse, and the laird of Wemyss in consequence be-
stowed on the chapel certain lands. The chapel had
a saltpan and a dovecot attached to it, and the laird
granted free coals to the chapel pan. After the Reforma-
tion the old ohapel was deserted as a place of worship,
and when David Lord Elcho was married to the Hon.
Anna Balfour (Burley), on February 1627, the Master and
his young wife took up residence at the chapel. They lived
in the chapel for twelve years The Master spent 200 in
laying out the gardens, which are prettily situated. The
house to the west of the chapel was built by Admiral
Wemyss, and was for many years the residence of the late Mi-
Thomas Eyewater, manager of Wemyss colliery.
A Glimpse at the Town of To-day.
The tolbooth, with its Dutch-looking steeple, is the
most striking building in Barncraig. The old school has
been transformed into dwelling-houses, and the teachers
now labour in the Dorothy School, of modern date, which
stands on the crest of the hill beyond Church Street. The
church, built nearly seventy years ago by Lady Emma Hay,
the wife of Admiral Wemyss, is now a gymnasium. The
Rev. John Thomson, who died in September 1905, aged 71
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 237
years, preached the last sermon in the old church on
Sunday, 2nd November 1895, and on the following
Sunday pastor and congregation took possession of the
new church, which stands on a site in what was once
known as West Wemyss Cemetery, and which takes the
name of St Adrian's Church. The cemetery was the gift
of the Wemyss family, and Mr Wemyss, the present
laird, defrayed the cost of the church 2200. The
church is seated for 600 people, and is comfortably filled
The late Rev. J. Thomson was a native of the little parish
of Muckhart. He laid the foundation of his education at
the village school of Muckhart, and afterwards studied at
Dollar Academy. At Dollar Mr Thomson was a dis-
tinguished student, and maintained the high level at the
University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with
honours. In 1867, just three years after the lamented
death of Mr James Hay Erskine Wemyss, Mr Thomson
took up residence in W T est Wemyss as the catechist under
the deed of mortification (1705) by the Earl of Cromarty,
who was married to the Countess of Wemyss. Mr Thom-
son's qualifications as a scholar commended themselves to
the Wemyss family, and he became tutor in the family,
forming a friendship which was maintained to the day of
his death. In 1874 Mr Thomson was ordained as the pastor
of West Wemyss Established Church, and a year after-
wards the church was endowed and was raised from the
position of a mission station to that of a quoad sacra.
During the past year some of the red-roofed buildings,
which were occupied at one time by salters, at the east
end of Church Street, have disappeared, and have given
place to a handsome gateway which forms the western
238 BAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
entrance to Wemyss Castle. On the shore one seeks in
vain for the site of the Old Engine pit, or the sites of the
seven saltpans which were in operation in 1790. The
complete effacement of the old hives of industry is due to
the fact that the shore has been undermined by the coal
workings of comparatively recent times, and has fallen to
such a level that the sea now claims considerable stretches
of the sandy beach on which the children of fifty years
ago spent many pleasant hours. The Victoria pit is still
in operation, but the Lady Emma, which adjoins it, is
deserted and dismantled. The old fittings are depressing
to look at, and the stranger seeks in vain for the salt
girnel which at one time formed the distributing house
for salt, and latterly for an abounding charity.
The Harbour, Past and Present.
In 1510, when West Wemyss was erected into a burgh
of barony, it was written of as the " Haven town of
Wemyss." In 1565, when Queen Mary married Darnley,
the laird of Wemyss was appointed keeper of the havens
of West Wemyss and East Wemyss for the intercepting
of enemies to the King and Queen. The Rev. George Gibb,
writing about 1790, states that the harbour was a good one,
and tells us that some years previously it had been greatly
improved by a basin for cleaning it having been con-
structed. Much as it was improved in Mr Gibb's time,
it was found to be inadequate for the Wemyss coal trade
in the late Mrs Wemyss' time, and in 1870 she had a
wet dock constructed. The dock completely changed the
whole aspect of things in the vicinity of the Victoria and
the Lady Emma pits.
Farnie thus writes of East and West Wemyss :
' Although in closer contiguity to the Castle than East
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 239
Wemyss, the grimy burgh of barony is not the holiday
pride of the people of the parish. No ; West Wemyss is
useful, East Wemyss is ornamental." Before many years
have elapsed, Barncraig will have become the ornamental
town. Coals have been gotten along the " golden fringe "
from the Chapel Gardens to the site of the old salt works
for 500 years. The workable seams are now getting
exhausted. In 1904 operations were suspended at the
West Wemyss Harbour.
Lady Emma pit, and the area of coal still to work from
the Victoria is so much restricted that the steam will be
permanently blown off in a comparatively few years,
In the days when Sir John Wemyss of Reres and
Wemyss and the lairds who immediately succeeded him
tabernacled in the district, the seagulls and wild ducks
had undisputed possession of the bay between the bold red
240 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
rocks on which the Castle stands and the ancient chapel
which was the residence of the vicar of Wemyss. When
the last cage has been drawn in the Victoria pit, and we
are left with only the echoes of the old cries, "Bend up"
and " Chap two and hang the hammer," the sea birds
which haunt the shores of the old haven town and the
town of Dysart will again take possession of the bay.
And so at every turn in this age of change and decay we
have history repeating itself.
In 1784, when the coals raised in Fife were carried to
the Baltic ports and the Mediterranean in small ships,
the people of West Wemyss came to the conclusion that
what could be done at Dysart could also be done at Barn-
craig, and a shipbuilding yard was opened. In 1790 a
good many journeymen and eighteen apprentices were at
work, and Mr Gibb says that some of " the best vessels
which have sailed from the Firth of Forth for the West
Indies have been built, as well as some for the Baltic
trade." Despite this testimonial given to the shipbuilders
of West Wemyss, the industry did not linger long, and
the buildings which formed the offices of the shipbuilders
were appropriated for workshops connected with the
colliery and salt industries.
The Salt Works.
Salt was manufactured at West Wemyss in the four-
teenth century. In 1790 there were as many as seven
saltpans in operation ; but in 1 836 there was only one
pan in use. In 1836, 1837, and 1838 the annual average
of salt made was 6208 bushels, representing a value of
470. In 1818, 1819, and 1820 the annual average
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS 241
quantity of salt made at West Wemyss and Methil was
50,400 bushels. In 1814 the customs dues on salt exported
from Methil harbour alone amounted to nearly 10,000.
Mr M'Lauchlan says : " The salt made at Wemyss is
excellent, and finds a ready market." The salt was all
that Mr M'Lauchlan claimed for it ; but the abolition of
the tax and changes in the mode of manufacture of salt
brought about a competition which ended in the closing
of the works at West Wemyss, and for many years the
bucket pat has been an institution known only to the
Coaltown of Wemyss.
The old red-roofed village of the Coaltown of Wemyss,
which lies about a mile to the north of West Wemyss, has
recently been surrounded by modern houses, and the popu-
lation has been added to considerably. In 1891 the
population was 381 ; in 1901 it was 731. The old school-
room has been converted into a reading room, and through
the kindness of Mr Wemyss and Lady Eva Wemyss a
bowling green was opened upwards of a year ago. During
the summer and autumn months the miners spend a good
deal of time on the bowling green, and in the long winter
months the reading room is an attraction for old and
young in the village.
A Peep at the Parish in 1790 and 1838.
Writing in 1790 and 1838 the ministers of the parish
give us some interesting glimpses at the institutions and
customs of other days. Mr Gibb tells us, for instance,
that, with the exception of a brewer and a wood merchant,
there were no merchants in the parish. Some persons, he
says, sold a small quantity of necessary articles. Hawkers
came from Kirkcaldy and sold at a cheaper rate, however,
242 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
and the poor vendors of the "necessary articles" in
Wemyss met with little or no encouragement. Beef was
then. 4d to 5|d per lb., and eggs sold at from 3d to 5d per
dozen. But really things required to be cheap. Day
labourers only earned Is 2d per day from March to
October, and Is for the rest of the year, while masons
were paid Is Sd and wrights Is 6d. Yet Mr Gibb con-
cludes his report with these words: "The people in
genera] are regular in their attendance upon public wor-
ship, and apparently contented with their situations."
He also gives us a peep at how the poor in these days
were maintained. He tells us that 39 poor people re-
ceived from Is to 2s 6d per month, while others were
made the recipients of an occasional gift of 5s. The total
raised for the poor was from 50 to 60. The money
came from weekly collections at the church, the interest
of 100, and the dues of the mort-cloth. In 1833 General
Wemyss contributed 60 towards the poor fund, and with
church and other collections the total was raised to
120 Us 3|d. Of this total 101 9s was spent.
Mr Gibb complains bitterly of the want of a post-office
in 1790. In 1838 there was still no post-office in the
parish, but Mr M'Lachlan seems to think that the want
was not then felt, because there " was a runner or post-boy
from Kirkcaldy to Leven every morning and again from
Leven to Kirkcaldy in the afternoon." In a chapter on
the "Habits and Character of the People," Mr M'Lachlan
concludes thus: "The people as a body have long been
distinguished for their quietness and general good conduct,
and may justly be said to be an industrious, contented,
decent, and church-going population."
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS.
The Catechist of Wemyss Parish.
In 1705 the Earl of Cromartie made arrangements
with sculptors to erect life-sized effigies of the late Countess
of Wemyss. It was found, however, that the burial
ground at Wemyss did not admit of a tomb being erected,
and in place of the proposed monument the Earl, as a
token of affection and honour to her memory, mortified to
the church of Wemyss the annual sum of one hundred
merks Scots to found a salary for a catechist to instruct
the miners and salters of Wemyss in the method of cate-
chising in their families. There was no catechising for a
period of years in the eighteenth century, and the capital
increased to such an extent that the annual payment is
now 64 14s. By the death of Mr Thomson, the minister
of the church of West Wemyss, the post of catechist is at
In the parish of Wemyss educational progress in the
past quarter of a century has kept pace with the industrial
changes. Writing on the " Educational State of the
Parish " in 1790, the Rev. G. Gibb says :-
" The schoolmaster's salary in the Parish School at East
Wemyss is 6 13s 4d. The number of scholars in winter is about
60 and in summer 40. The fees per quarter are, for English, Is 2d ;
English and writing, Is 6d ; arithmetic, 2s ; Latin, 2s 6d ; book-
keeping and navigation, a guinea each. As precentor and session
clerk he has yearly 2 10s, and 12s 6d every time the Lord's
Supper is dispensed ; for each marriage 2s 3d, and each baptism
lOd, for parochial certificates a guinea a year."
The statistics anent the attendance cast some light on
the customs of the times. The attendance in the winter
was 60 and in summer it was 40, and from this it may be
inferred that a considerable number of the children were
taken from the school in the summer months.
The next authentic report on education in Wemyss is
from the pen of the Rev. John M'Lauchlan, in 1838.
The parish made enormous strides between 1790 and 1838.
The population had increased from 3050 to 5215, and Mr
M'Lauchlan tells us that in addition to the parish school
at East Wemyss there were six other schools. The
teacher, who was a licentiate of the church, had a maxi-
mum salary of 34 4s 4|d a year, and 1 15s 7|d "for
the want of the legal quantity of garden ground." He
was also session clerk, the perquisites of which averaged
20 a year. The school fees amounted to 25. Mr
M'Lauchlan proceeds :
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 245
" All the common branches are taught here, as also Latin,
French, and mathematics. There are six other schools in the
parish, all endowed except the school at Kirkland, which is
partially endowed, as the company, besides the school fees, gives
30 a year by way of salary. Nearly 800 young persons are
receiving instruction in various branches of education ; and if there
are any in the parish under 15 years of age or above 10 who cannot
read, the fault lies with the parents. There is an educational
machinery in motion which is not surpassed in any parish ; and all
the teachers, seven in number, are distinguished for their zeal and
efficiency, and diligence and success."
The zeal and diligence of the teachers were not ap-
preciated to the extent which they might have been, and
in 1840 we find Mr Andrew Hutton, the teacher of East
Wemyss, giving evidence as follows before the Parlia-
mentary Commission appointed to enquire into child
labour in mines :
"The fee is 4d a week for reading, writing, and arithmetic;
but very few go the length of the arithmetic, and many not more
than reading. . . . They are taken down the pit early and
don't return to school."
Mr Thomas Eyewater, the manager of Wemyss colliery,
explained what going down the pit " early " meant. Mr
Eyewater says : " By a rule of this colliery no boy should
be taken below until he is ten years old. On special
occasions this rule is relaxed by the men themselves."
Mr Eyewater explained that the education of boys who
were dragged down the mines at a very early date was
often neglected. By the Act of 1842 boys were prevented
from entering the mines before they had reached ten years
of age, and from the date of the passing of the Act at-
tendance began to improve. Mr Eyewater's evidence in
1844 before the Commissioners appointed to inquire into
the working of the statute showed progress. He then
246 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
stated that the school fees exacted at the pay table were
compulsory on all who worked, with the exception of the
men who resided in West Wemyss, where the authority
of the school was divided. Captain Wemyss provided all
books, &c., for the use of the schools. " We have," he
said, " well-trained masters and a sewing school for girls."
The improvement here indicated was fully maintained
during the fifties and the sixties, and in 1873, when the
School Board came into existence, Wemyss parish was well
off for schools, and what is more, the schools were being
taken advantage of to a really gratifying extent. Here is
a notice showing the names of the respective schools, the
teaching staff and the attendance :
Or I in I.I,.
Parish School, East Wemyss, - - 1 male, 1 female, 142
F.C. School, ,, ,, - - 1 male, 1 female, 110
Madras School, Buckhaven, - - 1 male, 1 female, 250
Links School, ,, - - 1 male, 1 female, 174
West Wemyss Colliery School, - 1 male, 130
Coaltown Colliery School, - - 1 male, 94
Buckhaven (Miss Mitchell's Private
School), - - - - 1 female 80
Crossroads, Kirkland Public School, 1 male, 1 female, 250
Totals, 13 1230
Table showing the scholars, the teaching staff, and the
number of pupils in attendance to-day :
Buckhaven Higher Grade School, - 27 1069
Methil Public School, ... 21 876
Wemyss Public School, ... 14 618
Crossroads Public School, 10 511
Coaltown Public School, 5 255
Dorothy Public School, - 6 231
Totals, .... 83 3560
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 247
The present Buckhaven Higher Grade School is now
what was formerly known as the Madras School, and was,
extended first, in 1875 at a cost of 840, in 1882 at a cost
of 350, in 1885 at a cost of 700, and again in 1892 at a
cost of 2400. The school was the first in Scotland to be
recognised as a Higher Grade Public School. The school
originally took the name " Madras " because it partici-
pated in the Madras scholarships founded by the late Dr
Andrew Bell, of St Andrews and Madras. Mr Ross, the
headmaster of the school, began life as a pupil teacher at
Dysart. He studied in Edinburgh, and in 1886 was
doing duty as classical master in one of the academies of
the " Second City " when appointed to Buckhaven. The
Links School of Buckhaven was opened in 1810 as an
adventure school by the Associate congregation. The
Kirkland Crossroads School was built in 1875. The sum
expended on the original building was 840. An exten-
sion was made in 1887 at a cost of 1200. Mr George
Masterton has occupied the position of headmaster since the
school was opened. East Wemyss Public School, the infant
department of which is the old parish school, was extended
in 1890 at a cost of 800. . The present senior department
was erected in 1901, 2600 being expended. Mr James
Cassells, the headmaster, is a Wemyss man. He received
his early education at West Wemyss and Dysart, and was
appointed headmaster at Coal town in 1878. He was
transferred to East Wemyss in 1903. Methil Public
School was erected in 1893, at a cost of 2700. The
building was extended in 1902, when nearly 5000 was
spent. Mr William Ness, who has been headmaster since
the school was opened, fulfilled the duties of an assistant
in Buckhaven Higher Grade School before his appointment
to Methil. The school at Coaltown of Wemyss and the
248 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Dorothy School at West Wemyss were erected in 1896,
and cost together 7600. Mr David Wallace has occupied
the post of headmaster since 1897, when he was trans-
ferred from West Wemyss. He was succeeded at West
Wemyss by Mr David H. Lindsay, who had held an
assistantship in Buckhaven Higher Grade School for
several years. The building of new schools in every part
of the parish has thrown a great amount of work on the
respective School Boards. The Boards have been made
up of men who have been fired with zeal for the cause,
however, and the schools of Wemyss parish to-day will
compare favourably with the schools of any parish in
Scotland. The following is a list of the gentlemen who
have occupied the chair since the passing of the Education
Joseph Budge, 1873 to 1879 ; James W. Johnston, 1879 to 1882 ;
R. G. E. Wemyss, 1882 to 1891 ; Rev. William M'Ghie, 1891 to
1894 ; James W. Johnston, 1894 to 1905.
Mr A. Watson Taylor, who was trained in Dundee,
was appointed clerk in 1899. Mr Taylor is also clerk to
the Parish Council.
(iolf in the Parish.
Puffing pits, large redd bings, and railway sidings
operated sadly against the amenties of the historic golf
links by the " Glass Cove" and " Lady Rock," at Wemyss,
and for some years after the opening of the Michael pits
golf ceased to be one of the popular games of either East
or West Wemyss. The first competition held under the
auspices of the Wemyss Golf Club took place in March
1858, when the secretary records that "splendid shots
were made from the tee over the Glass Cove." It would
be a mistake for people to run away with the idea that
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 249
golf only began to be played at Wemyss when the club
was formed in the fifties. Queen Mary could wield a golf
club as well as fly a hawk, and it is quite within the
bounds of possibility that she and Darnley, who, as
Melville tells us, was "even and brent up. weill instructed
in his youth in all honest and comely exercises," may have
tried their skill in driving over the red rocks which made
the Wemyss course one of the most sporting of courses.
Whether Mary and Darnley played golf by the Glass
Cove and Wemyss Castle or not, certain it is that golf was
played at Wemyss at an early period. John Grub, the
author of " Orations on Various Select Subjects," was
appointed schoolmaster of the parish of Wemyss in 1748.
On the year of his appointment he was struck on the
knee by a golf ball. The injury brought on a white
swelling. The schoolmaster was confined to the house for
two years, and he ultimately lost the injured limb.
The first captain of the club of the fifties was Mr
Wemyss of Wemyss Castle, and his lady was the first
patroness. Mr Wemyss was succeeded by. among others,
Mr R. G. E. Wemyss, Mr Oswald of Dunnikier, Mr Cath-
cart of Pitcairlie, Rev. A. B. Campbell of Markinch,
Colonel Mai tl and Dougall, Allan Stewart of Balgonie,
Colonel Johnston, and old Tom Morris. The following
extract from the minutes is particularly interesting :
"11 Nov. 1863. After the day's play, Mr Wemyss, captain of
the club, entertained the members to dinner, after which Mr
Wemyss proposed that Mr Thomas Morris, champion, be made an
honorary member of the club, which was carried by acclamation."
The club played a great many matches in the sixties,
seventies, and eighties, and pulled off such a number of
successes that it held a place of honour among the clubs of
the " Kingdom."
250 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
In the summer of 1905 a meeting was held and it was
agreed to resuscitate the club and to re-open the old course.
The following office-bearers were appointed : President,
Mr Michael Wemyss ; vice-president, Mr G. F. Under-
wood ; secretary, Mr J. C. Davis ; treasurer, Mr J. A.
THE WEMYSS COLLIERY.
The monks of Dunferruline commenced to work coal
under the shadow of the ancient abbey, on the lands of
Pittencrieff, in 1291. Twenty years before this, Sir John
of Methil and Wemyss was taking a practical interest in
ecclesiastical affairs in Dunfermline. Sir John's successors
kept up friendly relations with the abbot and the monks
of Dunfermline, and at Pittencrieff they doubtless learned
enough of the art of coal-getting and the value of coals to
induce them to open up " heughs " in the seams which
cropped out on the banks of the Forth at West Wemyss,
and ultimately at Methil. Coal heughs certainly existed
at Wemyss early
In the Fifteenth Century.
In an agreement entered into between David Wemyss
of Wemyss and Robert Livingston of Drumry in 1429, in
connection with the estates of East Wemyss and West
Wemyss, it was specifically set forth that they mutually
granted to each other the freedom of working coal. A
clause was also inserted anent the manufacture of salt.
In 1475 a dispute arose between Sir John of Wemyss and
Sir Michael Livingston, the vicar of Wemyss, anent the
teinds. The questions raised were fought out in the
ecclesiastical courts of St Andrews, and ultimately the
Assessor pronounced decree setting forth that the teind
coals of the coal-heughs of the Laird of Wemyss shall be
levied upon the multure of the coal-heughs from which
they were led to the sea, and as for the teind of salt, the
vicar was to have the true tenth of each pan in the week
252 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
paid wholly to him at the pan. At this time there were
as many as six salt pans in operation, and one coal-heugh
at work at West Wenayss, so that the vicar's income from
salt and coal must have been very considerable.
Old Coal Taxes.
David Wemyss of that ilk (1572-1597), had the dis-
tinction of being called before the Privy Council in 1573
in connection with his salt pans at West Wemyss. The
Laird of Wemyss had five pans at work and did a con-
siderable export trade. Salt was scarce in this country,
and the Council decreed that the export trade should be
restricted until our own country was supplied. To make
sure chat the Laird of Wemyss would observe the
restrictive conditions, he was called before the Council at
Holyrood. In the closing days of the sixteenth century it
appears to have been the custom of the Privy Council to
close all seaports for general merchandise where no custom
officer was located. There was no officer at West Wemyss,
and the port in Sir John Wemyss' time, because of ship-
owners defrauding the Customs, was closed as a seaport
for general merchandise, coal and salt excepted.
John first Earl of Wemyss (1622-1649) did a great
deal for the development of the minerals and the salt
industry at West Wemyss. It was in his time that the
Privy Council decreed that home vessels should be served
with coal at the ports on the Forth before foreign craft.
This condition was enforced because of an alleged scarcity
of fuel in this country. The Earl fought the Privy
Council for freedom to trade in such a way as would
enable him to develop the trade and keep his workpeople
fully employed. He brought a mining engineer from
England to test the value of his coalfields, and he was the
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 253
first to discover coal at Lochgelly. He claimed to have as
many as twelve seams of coals in the lands of West
Wemyss, and a glimpse at life in the olden time is given
by the words in which the discovery of the Bowhousc
coal is recorded. A coal called the "Bowhouse" was
found " be-east the Daubbue Creeaydge att the pleay
field quher the witches is burnt." David the second Earl
of Wemyss did much for the development of the coal works
at Wemyss, and, indeed, of Scotland. Parliament in 1656
imposed a tax of 4s per ton on coals exported in home
vessels and 8s per ton on coals sent abroad in foreign
ships. The tax proved more than the coalowners in Scot-
land could bear, and Lord Wemyss went to London and
presented a petition to the Protector, pointing out that
the impost was ruining the coalmasters and preventing the
20,000 people employed at the coal works on the banks of
the Forth from earning an adequate living. The Govern-
me'nt of the Commonwealth reduced the tax on home
boats from 4s to 2s 6d per ton and on foreign from 8s to
Earl David opened up the coal works at Methil. In
the document which the Earl left bearing on the coal-
workings he states, " It is well known that I leave many
good colles at West Wemyss." David the third Earl of
Wemyss was in 1689 a representative of the coalowners
who appealed for a remission of the tax on coals, and
James the fourth Earl had a good deal to do with the
same subject. The Hon. James Wemyss (1756-1786), like
his predecessors, did much to improve his coal and salt
works. A very extensive hold of the coal which cropped
out on the shore between the Chapel Gardens and Wemyss
harbour was secured by the running of a day level from
254 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
high-water mark. The breast of coal in the mine measured
three hundred yards at some places, and the workings ex-
tended to East Newton, where the coal "nipped out."
This mine was followed by a shaft, the workings being
drained by a windmill and a horse gin. Operations did not
proceed far, however, when the sea burst in and work had
to be abandoned.
A Great Fitting.
Nos. 2 and 3 shafts followed, and then came one of
the greatest fittings of the times, No. 4 pit. It was sunk
on the shore a little to the east of the present gas works.
The pit was 84 fathoms in depth, and was drained by an
engine of 30 horse power, but ultimately this was increased
to 90 horse power, the volume of water haying been
largely added to through a flow from a dam in the old
Writing in 1790, Mr Gibb, the minister of the parish,
states that there is shipped at West Wemyss annually
about 6000 tons of coal, mostly for Amsterdam, Hamburg
and Middlesburg. The light on the Island of May was
at this time supplied with coal from West Wemyss.
Floods and fires were among the difficulties experienced in
connection with the Engine pit, and in 1824 No. 7 pit,
which was afterwards known as the Victoria, was sunk.
As the dook workings of the Victoria began to spread
under the sea, the water increased enormously, and Mr
David Landale, the mining engineer at the colliery, writ-
ing in 1835, tells us that there were as many as four steam
engines on the fitting, of the united power of 172 horses,
which was nearly a horse-power to every ton of coals
raised. At this time the workings under the sea gave out
large quantities of hydrogen gas, and Mr Landale found
THE PARISH OP WEMVSS.
that the only remedy was to put a bore at repeated inter-
vals through the roof coal, and ignite the gas at the mouth
of the hole. Mr Landale gives us the following glimpse at
the workings in the early days of the Victoria :
"There is a level tramway every third room or drift, upon
which the trains are drawn from the inclined plane to the colliers.
The colliers for two rooms above these roads slide their coals down
the steep downsets, and those one room down hand them up.
Every three men have a boy or a girl for this purpose."
In his evidence given in 1841 before the Royal Com-
mission appointed to inquire into the employment of
women and children in mines, Mr Thomas Eyewater, the
manager of the colliery, stated that there were employed
above and below ground at Wemyss colliery 370 persons.
Of the 269 people working below ground 25 were females,
and of the boys 25 were under 13 years of age. Mr Bye-
water continues :
"Our hours of employment are nominally 12, but two hours
being allowed for breakfast and dinner, 10 hours are the time the
men and others actually work. Children remain below as long as
the adults ; but as respects young colliers they work just according
to their ability. By the practice of the colliery each adult collier is
entitled to send to bank a specified quantity as his day's work, and
whatever a man's strength might be, his fellow-workmen would
object to his increasing it. But then, as a man is allowed to add a
quarter to his quantity from the first day he takes a boy down to
learn him his trade as a collier, he does, in fact, work this ad-
ditional quantity himself often for months, the boy being incapable
for a considerable time.
"A boy under 13 years of age ranks as 'quarter man ;' on
reaching the age of 13 he is reckoned as ' half man ; ' at 16 rises to
a ' three-quarter man ; ' and at 17 takes his place as a ' full man.'
These regulations were formed by the colliers themselves, and
acquiesced in by the proprietor. By a rule of this colliery, no boy
256 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYS8.
should be taken below until he is 10 years old ; on special occasions
this rule is relaxed, by the men themselves, to meet the wishes of
men with large families, or to assist the widow of a collier.
" The colliers' present wage averages from 2s 6d to 3s per day ;
they have fallen 25 per cent, within the last 12 months, owing to
reduction in the sale prices of coals, arising from a diminished
demand. In addition to money wages, a collier (if married) gets a
free house and garden. He is further permitted to work 5 cwt. of
coal weekly for his family use, which is sent to the bank without
charge ; but he loses this advantage if he has less than 10 days'
work in the fortnight, unless he proves by a certificate from the
surgeon of the works that sickness or injury sustained at the work
occasioned his absence. Unmarried colliers receive money in lieu
of coals. The present rates of wages for smiths are 2s 8d ; masons,
2s 6d ; carpenters, 2s 8d ; and labourers, Is 8d to 2s per day.
" The coals are putted by females, and the practice here is to
contract with a certain number of responsible hands for periods of
three and six months, leaving these contractors to engage their
Among the further evidence led at Wemyss was the
" Robert Welch, 11 years old, hewer Works with father ; has
done so one month ; learning to hew coal ; has no disiike to the
work, only finds it very inconvenient to get porridge down ; has
been five years at school, and learned to read and write. [Reads
and writes very well.] Two brothers work below with me
Alexander, 13, has been two years down, and George, 15, has
been four years down ; both read and write well.
"Janet Welch, about 20 years old, putter Wrought below
nine years ; did bear the coal on back ; ceased to do so six months
ago. Women who worked in the high seam carried coal till
masters forbid it two years since ; small hutches could have been
used, but it was cheaper to carry. I work on the master's account,
and receive Is a day ; do not like contract work, as the work is
made o'ersair. [Reads ; ill-informed.]
"Isabel Hugh, 19 years old, putter Began to work when 13
years old, below ground ; has wrought in the fields ; likes the
work well enough ; it is guie sair sweating work. Janet Adarnson
PARISH OF WEMYSS. 257
and I contract for putting on our own account ; the road is 100
fathoms in length, and we run the races singly ; we frequently run
50 races between us ; we get 14d per score, and Is per week each
extra for clearing pit bottom and working the pump ; seldom work
less than 12 to 14 hours. [Reads and writes.]
"Elizabeth Lister, 15 years old, putter Has wrought three
years below ; works from six in the morning to six at night ; works
for contractors ; has to make 14 races before poriidge-time ; the
distance is 300 fathoms from incline to pit bottom ; and 14 to 15
races between porridge and the time we take our pieces of bread ;
14, 15, and 16 races afterwards; we get lod a day, but only em-
ployed nine, sometimes ten days in the fortnight. When I wrought
on day's wages for master, was not so hard worked ; the work is
more sair, as the men drive us more, for they do the work cheap.
Many girls have left, not liking to be driven, and gone into the
fields. [Reads and writes very well ; clever and ready in replies.]"
From 1870 to the Present Day.
In 1870 the year the eight hours a day system was
introduced Mrs Wemyss gave colliery development in
the. vicinity of Barncraig an impulse by the construction
of the West Wemyss dock. The dock enabled the man-
agement of the Wemyss colliery to take full advantage of
the golden days experienced in the coal trade in 1872-3.
The opening of the dock was followed by the sinking of
the Hugo pit, and in 1899 Lochhead pit was sunk and a
day mine driven through the strata to the Bowhouse coal.
In 1894 the Wemyss Coal Company, Limited, was formed.
The directors of the company are : Mr R. G. E. Wemyss
(chairman), Mr Joseph Budge, Mr John Gemmel, Mr John
Oswald, Mr W. Nocton, and Mr A. Bowman. Mr V. L.
Gordon is general manager ; Mr G. F. Underwood, secre-
tary ; Mr R. Anderson, cashier ; and Mr J. Davis, prin-
In 1898 the chemiss splint coal was struck it a depth
of 140 fathoms in the Michael pits, which are equi-distant
258 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
between Wemyss Castle and the village of East Wemyss.
A direct-acting pumping engine capable of raising one
thousand gallons of water a minute to the surface is at
work on one of the shafts, and on both pits the coals are
drawn by handsome coupled engines, the combined output
reaching as much as 2000 tons a day. The dook in the
chemiss splint seam dips one foot in three, and has reached a
point something like three-quarters of a mile under the sea.
The screening plant for the coals and other fittings are of
the best make, and through an effective system of lighting
by electricity work goes on as briskly in the dark mornings
and on the long dark nights as it does in the sunshine.
An interesting feature of the Michael pits is the fact that
all the machinery is founded on the solid rock, and the
boilers are connected with the chimney- stalk by flues
driven through the red sandstone.
In the beginning of 1904 the work of opening up the
northern section of Wernyss coalfield was commenced at
Earlseat, near Thornton. The site makes the colliery
unique in the history of mining, Earlseat is the apex of
the Wemyss, Dysart, and Balgonie coalfields, and five
seams of coal converge and crop out within a small area.
The colliery fittings have been pitched on the apex, and
as many as five day-mines or "in-going eyes" are being run
into the Dysart main seam, which is from fifteen to twenty
feet in thickness. The seams stretch away into the Dysart,
Wemyss, and Balgonie fields for distances ranging from a
mile to a mile and a half, and the mines are being run to
the south, the east, and the west. The stoop-and-room
system of working is being followed while the work of
development goes on ; but when the march has been
reached on the different slopes and a great area of coal
260 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
has been opened up, the management will start to come
surf ace wards on the long-wall system. In the 500 yards
which have been run in the Dysart seam in No. 3 mine
the dip has varied now one foot in six feet, then com-
paratively flat, and afterwards one in three. This means
that the Dysart main seam and the seams which lie above
it have ample covering in the whole of the area being
operated on, and it is thus computed that the field of Earl-
seat will yield from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 tons of coal.
In the centre of the horseshoe into which the mines are
being driven a huge platform has been erected on the
surface, and by an ingenious arrangement the whole of
the coals drawn from the mines are wheeled on to the one
platform, and are dealt with by effective cleaning and
screening plant, which runs the different classes of coals
into the waggons in the very best of condition.
Messrs Bowman & Company's lease of the Muiredge
and Cameron fields expired on 1st August 1905, and on
that date Messrs Bowman & Co.'s pits were taken over by
the Wemyss Coal Company. One of the greatest features
of the Wemyss Company's works is the Baum coal washer,
which has been erected at Denbeath. The washer is capable
of handling 1000 tons^. of coal a day, and has storage
accommodation for from 4000 to 5000 tons. Most of the
trebles, nuts, beans, and peas produced at Wemyss colliery
are treated by the washer. The huge machine and its
railway connections cost nearly 40,000.
Mr Joseph Budge has been factor on Wemyss estate
since 1870. He has been a member of the Fife County
Council since tho passing of the Act of 1889, and in this
connection he has fulfilled the duties of Chairman of the
Kirkcaldy District Committee with great acceptance for
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS.
two terms. As Convener of the Technical Education
Committee of the County Council he has done magnificent
work, and his labours on the School Board of the parish
of Wemyss have been unceasing.
THE WEMYSS FAMILY,
From the Earliest Times to the Present Day.
Michael of Methil, the founder of the Wemyss family,
flourished during the reign of William the Lion, which
was from the year 1165 to 1214. Between 1165 and 1905
we have many generations, extending over a period of
seven centuries. To the mind of Sir William Fraser, the
tradition of the Wemyss descent from the ancient Earls
of Fife was not established, but he concludes a chapter on
"The Origin of the Family" by telling us that the family
has one of the " longest and purest of Scottish pedigrees."
The writer of this little work does not accept Sir William's
deductions against the Fife descent as absolute, and despite
all that the learned author says, clings to the tradition
that the family are descended from the Earls of Fife.
Writers who do not accept the traditional descent from
the Fife earls build their theories upon two grounds
(1) that in the days of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss the
Wemyss family did not bear the ensign armorial of the
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 263
Earls of Fife; and (2) that it has not been proved that
the lands of Muircambus were part of the early possessions
of the Wemyss's. The first argument does not count for
much when it is kept in mind that the Earls of Fife
changed their arms. The second contention is disposed
of by a case which is reported in the Acta Auditorium, p.
52, and which came before the Lords Auditors on 17th
July 1476. The case was one raised at the instance of
David Bos well of Balmuto, and his son, David Boswell of
Glasmont, against William Levinstone of Drumry, anent
the lands of Muircambus. The evidence adduced shows
without doubt that the lands had been in the hands of the
Wemyss family when the division took place among the co-
heiresses in 1342.
Macduflf was created Earl of Fife by Malcolm Canmore
in 1057, twelve years before Queen Margaret arrived at
Queensferry, and was distinguished by many great and
noble privileges for his valour against the usurper Macbeth,
and through which Malcolm was restored to the throne of
his ancestors. Gilimichael Macduff was the fourth in
descent from the great Macduff. He was a witness to
several charters by King David I., "The Sair Saint," to
the monastery of Dunfermline. He was succeeded in the
earldom by Duncan, his eldest son. Gilimichael's second
son was Hugo, and to Hugo he gave the lands of Markinch,
and other lands now the estate of Wemyss. Hugo died
in 1163, A son of Hugo, who also took the name of
Hugo, conferred on the canons of St Andrews the church
of Markinch, with a 'toft and the teinds. The charter was
witnessed by Richard, the bishop, who died in 1173. Hugo
had a son whose name was Michael, and Michael was suc-
ceeded by his son John, who afterwards became Sir John
264 RAMBLES IN 8COONIE AND WEMYSS.
of Methil and Wemyss. Sir John lavished many gifts on
the Church. He granted in 1239 his right to the Church
of St Mary of Wemyss to the Hospital of Soutra, a small
religious house on the ridge of the Lammermoors. Sir
John, who is described by Bower the historian as a brave
knight, was stricken in years, and was suffering from an
aguish fever when the Norwegians tried to conquer Scot-
land. While under the effects of the malady he fell into
a slumber and had a vivid dream. He thought he stood
in the north porch of the church at Dunfermline, and there
a lady of great beauty and royal robes appeared on the
scene. Sir John begged of the lady to reveal who she
was, and the visitor from the other world replied : " I
am Margaret, formerly Queen of Scotland; this is Malcolm,
my husband, and these are our three sons, kings of this
realm while in the flesh, with whom I hasten to Largs to
defend the country and gain a victory over the tyrant
who strives unjustly to subdue our realm." In response
to what he considered to be an invitation from the un-
earthly visitants, Sir John, despite his weakly condition,
journeyed from Wemyss to Dunfermline. He related his
dream to the prior, showed his devotion by kissing the
relics in the church of the saintly Queen, and while thus
engaged his malady vanished. It was with difficulty he
could tear himself away from the sacred spot, and while he
lingered and thought of the days when Queen Margaret
worshipped in the sacred edifice, a messenger arrived with
news of the victory gained over the Norwegians at Largs.
Sir John was on most intimate terms with Malcolm
Earl of Fife. He was succeeded by Sir Michael Wernyss
of Wemyss. Sir Michael was in possession of the Wemyss
estates from 1265 to 1319. He was among the Scottish
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 265
barons who swore fealty to Edward I., and in March 1304,
when the King made a progress through Fife, he spent a
night and a day at Wemyss. On King Robert the Bruce
coming forward in defence of the rights of the people of
Scotland, Sir Michael joined his standard, with the result
that Edward issued a mandate commanding that the
"manor" where the Laird of Wemyss "lay" and his
other "manors" should be burned and his lands destroyed.
Sir Michael was succeeded by his son, Sir David Wemyss
of Wemyss, who was one of the ambassadors sent, after
the death of Alexander III., to bring home the. Maid of
Norway. The King of Norway presented Sir David with
a massive silver basin, which is preserved in the Castle of
Wemyss to this day. In 1297 he was summoned to attend
on King Edward in Flanders ; but he does not seem to
have been happy with the English King, for ac a later
date he and his wife are referred to as rebels. Sir David
in certain writs is designated as lord of half of the lands
of Lochore, and the mill of Lochoreshire was the common
property of Sir David and Adam de Vallonius. He died
about 1330. It was under Sir Michael's roof that the
Regent Moray was seized with the illness which proved
fatal, and in the stirring times which followed Randolph's
death, the Laird of Wemyss was among the nobles who
were made prisoners by the English. Sir Michael died
somewhere about 1 342, leaving, says Sir William Fraser,
no surviving male issue, and his large possessions were
divided among his three daughters, who carried their
separate portions of their father's estate into the families
of their respective husbands. The partition of Wemyss-
shire continued until 1630, when the whole of the lands
returned to the family by purchase. Sir John Wemyss of
266 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Reres and Wemyss succeeded in 1372. Sir John is known
as the patron of Andrew Wyntoun, the well-known author
of the " Rhyming Chronicle." Wyntoun became prior of
St Serf's in 1395, and it was at the suggestion of Sir John
that the author published his " Cronykil of Scotland."
The Chronicle was issued about 1423 or 1424.
Sir John Wemyss was succeeded by David Wemyss of
Methil and Wemyss, who was fully alive to the advan-
tages of consolidating the Wemyss properties, and it was
in his time that the distinction of Wemyss into East and
West Wemyss originated. John Wemyss succeeded his
father in 1430. About the year 1460 probably at the
coronation of James III. the Laird of Wemyss was
raised to the rank of knight. Sir John was succeeded in
1502 by his son, who died in 1508. David Wemyss came
next. He was knighted in 1510, and in 1511 he obtained
the formal erection of the whole of the Wemyss estates
into a barony, which was called the Barony of Wemyss.
Sir David accompanied James IV. in his fatal expedition
against England, and was killed at the battle of Flodden
on 9th September 1513. David Wemyss, who succeeded
to the estates in 1513, died in 1544. Then came Sir John
Wemyss of that ilk, who was a military man. Among
the many engagements in which the Laird of Wemyss
took part was the battle of Pinkie, which was fought on
10th September 1547, and there he was taken prisoner on
the field. He was soon liberated, and in 1548 he distin-
guished himself by repulsing a body of English soldiers
who tried to obtain a footing in Fife by landing at St
Monans. Sir John was appointed lieutenant of Fife,
Kinross, and Clackmannan by Queen Mary, and in 1564-5
the Queen visited Wemyss Castle. Sir John was at the
THE PARISH OP WEMTS8. 267
battle of Langside in May 1568, and took part in the
conflict. He died in January 1571. He was succeeded
by his son, David Wemyss of Wemyss (circa 1572-1597).
In consequence of the illness of his father, the young
laird had often to step into the breach and take military
service. He took part in many of the Border raids in the
middle of the sixteenth century. He redeemed the lands
of Lochgelly from Sir William Scott of Balwearie. During
his lifetime he was compelled to entertain at his castle of
Wemyss a number of prominent Borderers, who were
committed to the care of the well-affected barons of the
realm as pledges for the good behaviour of their kinsmen.
When James VL was married to Princess Anne of Den-
mark, the Laird of Wemyss was among those summoned
to a meeting of the Estates held in Edinburgh in April
1589. In May of the same year he was appointed con-
vener of the county of Fife, and the duty of a convener
of a county was to summon the freeholders of the shire
for the election of Commissioners to represent them in a
Parliament to be held on October 2nd.
In 1596 the Laird of Wemyss was a Member of Parlia-
ment. On 7th February 1592, the Earl of Huntly, accom-
panied by a retinue, crossed the Forth at Queensferry and
arrived at Donibristle in the evening. Shortly after the
arrival of Huntly, the " Bonnie Earl of Moray " lay bleed-
ing to death on the rocks in front of Donibristle House.
The friends of Moray cried to the King for justice against
Huntly, and an attempt was made to get up a feud
between the Earls of Athole and Huntly. Although
David of Wemyss seems to have sympathised with the
Atholes, Sir William Fraser found no document indicat-
ing that he had been involved in the skirmishes which
268 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND VVEMYSS.
took place. Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss (1597-1622)
was knighted about 1594, and in 1595 represented the
barons of Fife in Parliament along with Sir John Melville
of Carnbee. His loyalty to King James led to his being
much trusted by the "Scottish Solomon" and Queen Anne.
James was always impecunious, and in 1589 the Laird of
Wemyss was summoned, in his capacity as Commissioner
to Parliament, to Perth to a Convention to "devise ways
and means for replenishing the royal exchequer." Sir
John Wemyss was one of the nobles chosen to convoy the
royal household to London on James succeeding to the
Sir John Wemyss of that ilk, the first Earl of Wemyss,
succeeded in 1622. Sir John was knighted by James VI.
about 1618. He was one of the Scottish lairds who
were taken in by the Nova Scotia bubble. Charles I.,
taking special notice of Sir John, passed a signature
of a Nova Scotia baronetcy in his favour, following up
the new honour by the statement that it was " a next
stepp to a further title." After the lands in Nova
Scotia had been declared to be the property of the
French Government, Charles, in 1628, "in remembrance
of the good service done to his Majestie," conferred
on Sir John the dignity and rank of a Lord of Par-
liament by the title of Lord Wemyss of Elcho. In
the Palace of Dunfermline, where Charles I. was born, a
patent, which had been signed at Holyrood, creating
Lord Wemyss Earl of Wemyss and Lord Elcho of Methil,
was presented to his lordship by his Majesty.
Lord Wemyss was one of the six Lords of Parliament
who bore the "pale" of crimson velvet above Charles' head
from Holyrood to the church on coronation clay. When the
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 269
laird of Wemyss and Methil was created Lord Wemyss,
he promised to try and approve himself worthy of the
honour to the "utmost of his possibilities," and his lord-
ship was as good as his word. Although appointed by
the King a member of the Court of High Commission,
which had been established by the bishops, he did not
act upon the Court, and so strong a Presbyterian was he
that when Charles tried to force Episcopacy on the people
of Scotland he cast in his lot with the nobles who tried at
any cost to counteract the measures of Charles. He and
his son subscribed the Covenant with the rest of the
nobility in 1638 in Greyfriars Churchyard, and Sir
William Fraser says they were strong workers in the
struggle which culminated in the second Reformation.
Baillie gives us a delightful peep at the character of
Wemyss. In 1638 he was appointed the King's Commis-
sioner to the General Assembly. The King intended at
first to appoint the Earl of Southesk. It transpired that
Southesk was distrusted by the country. Wemyss fell to
be next, and, says Baillie, " the modestie and simplicitie
of the man made him displeasing to none." In the days
when the breach between the King and the country
widened, the Earl and Lord Elcho stood fast by their
Presbyterian faith without wavering, and in 1644 Lord
Wemyss avowed his adherence to the Solemn League and
In 1630 Lord Wemyss purchased the lands of East
Wemyss, and the whole of Wemyss-shire thus became
once more the property of the Wemyss family. The Earl
of Wemyss developed the minerals on the estate to an
enormous extent, and also added to the saltpans of the
district. The Earl was the first to discover coal at Loch-
head, near Lochgelly.
270 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
On the death of the Earl of Wetnyss in 1 649 he was suc-
ceeded by his son, David Lord Elcho, who was born in 1610.
David had inherited all the patriotism and the business
capacity of his father. He took an active interest in the
civil, the military, and ecclesiastical affairs of the country
during the stirring days between 1649 and 1679. He
carried out many improvements on his lands, and launched
many extensive schemes of mineral development. Through
the creation of his father as the Earl of Wemyss, David
became Lord Elcho. He supported his father in his
adherence to the Covenanting cause, which brought the
second Reformation in its train, and the subsequent
rupture with Charles I. At the General Assembly in
Glasgow in 1638 he opposed the bishops and all their
works, and in the following year accompanied Montrose
and Leslie in the north of Scotland when they took the
field against Huntly. He accompanied the Scottish army
into England in 1640, and was absent from Wemyss for a
whole year. He took part in many Covenanting struggles,
and had the honour of being mentioned in many of Crom-
He was a member of the Parliament which sat at
Edinburgh in the autumn of 1641, under the presidency
of Charles I., was a member of the General Assembly of
1643, and with his father protested against the translation
of George Gillespie from Wemyss to Edinburgh. Lord
Elcho experienced a good deal of treachery as a com-
mander in the Highlands in 1644 and 1645, and this led
to defeats. In 1648 he was appointed by the Committee
of Estates to his former command of colonel of one of the
regiments of infantry to be raised by the county of Fife.
Lord Elcho cast in his lot with " the honest party " rather
than with the " politic-Presbyterian party," and he did not
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 271
take part in the expedition which sustained a terrible
check by Cromwell at Preston. Indeed, Lord Elcho was
one of the deputation sent by the "honest party" to
Berwick, in response to an offer from Cromwell to accept
the assistance of himself and his army against their
opponents. In a letter, Cromwell says :
"I must be bold to testify for that noble lord (the Marquis of
Argyll), the Lord Elcho, and the other gentlemen with him, tha
I have found nothing in them other than what becomes Christians
and men of honour."
In the stirring times which followed in 1549, the Castle
of Wemyss was more than once the scene of rejoicing and
of mourning. Jean Wemyss, Lord Elcho's eldest daughter,
was in April married to the Earl of Angus, arid in August
Elcho's sister, Lady Jean Wemyss, was married to her
second husband, the Hon. Harry Maule. On the 10th
November Lady Elcho died, and on the day of his wife's
funeral Lord Elcho was mourning the death of his father,
John first Earl of Wemyss. David Lord Elcho now suc-
ceeded as second Earl of Wemyss He married Lady
Helenor Fleming, eldest daughter of the Earl of Wigton,
as his second wife, but she only lived two years.
Charles II. visited Wemyss Castle on 20th July 1650,
and having afterwards found his way to Edinburgh and
Leith, he proceeded to Dunfermline. In the ancient
city he was met by the Earl of Wemyss and Mr George
Winram, the minister of Liberton, as representatives of
the Kirk Commission and the Committee of Estates.
They intimated to the King that, as he had refused to
sign the declaration renouncing popery and prelacy, they
could neither own him nor his cause. After certain altera-
tions had been made, the King signed the document the
272 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
following day, and the document became what is known
in history as the " Dunfermline Declaration."
The King fell sadly from the faith implied in the
Declaration, and was really unworthy of the fidelity shown
him. Charles was crowned at Scone on 1st January 1651.
The Earl of Wemyss was present, and in making a pil-
grimage through Fife in February the King visited
Wemyss Castle and passed a night with Earl David.
When Burntisland fell into the hands of Cromwell's army,
Wemyss Castle was visited and despoiled of its arms and
artillery. Earl David ultimately made hearty recognition
of the Government of Cromwell, and during the ascend-
ancy of the Commonwealth he enjoyed a season of quiet
On 23rd December 1652 the Earl of Wemyss was
married to Lady Margaret Leslie, the second daughter of
the Earl of Rothes. Lady Margaret's first husband was
Lord Balgonie, and her second husband was the second
Earl of Buccleuch. The Earl of Wemyss was her third
husband. Earl David attended the first Parliament of
Charles II. at Edinburgh, on 1st January 1661. In
May 1662 Parliament assigned to Earl David and the
Earl of Kellie the task of bringing in the bishops. Arch-
bishop Sharpe was one of the bishops consecrated, and in
1664 Earl David was summoned by Sharpe to take part in
the visitation of the University of St Andrews. The visit
was the commencement of a friendship between the Arch-
bishop and the Earl which resulted in the erection of
Methil into a free burgh of barony, the building of a
harbour at Methil, the creation of fairs, and the introduc-
tion of many changes on the Wemyss lands.
In many respects the Earl was a wonderful man.
While devoting much attention to the army and to Parlia-
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 273
mentary questions, he kept a watchful eye on the salt
works of "Wemyss and his coal output from Methil
" Happy Mine " the Kirkland and the West Wemyss
works were a credit to the times in which he lived. The
close personal supervision he gave to the works is shown
by the diary he wrote, of an entry from which the follow-
ing is an extract :
" I have sett doune the trew condition of all my colles, that my
posteritie may know how I left them at writting of this att Candils-
The Earl then proceeds to detail the coalfields of the
district, including those under the Leven, and he advises
his successors to acquire certain additional lands, so that
they might secure the coalfields. Earl David died at
Wemyss Castle in July 1679. By his first and third
wives he had a numerous offspring, sixteen children, but
only one daughter by each of these two wives survived
him. In his diary the Earl thus notes the death of his
only son :
" The Lord giues and He taks all is His. But we being in
a sade conditione, sailing His holy pleasure, I must shew that
David Wemyss, my second sone, heir aboue named, being 16 yeirs
ould and 6 months and 15 days, died att Wemyss, 28th September
1671, at 5 morning, he being my only sone of 10. He was buried
10th October 1671 at Wemyss Kirk."
The Earl settled his titles and estates on his daughter,
Lady Margaret, his only surviving child by Lady Margaret
Leslie. Lady Margaret was born at Wemyss on 1st
January 1659, and on 28th March 1672, when she was
only 13 years of age, she was married to Sir James
Wemyss of Burntisland, who afterwards became Lord
Burntisland. On the death of Earl David in 1676, Lady
Margaret became the Countess of Wemyss. A petition
274 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
was presented to Charles II. asking that Lord Burntisland
should be allowed to enjoy the title of Earl of Wemyss ;
but his lordship died before the King had disposed of the
application. Lord Burntisland was only 23 years of
age at his death, and before his remains had been long
buried his widow had given birth to her fifth child. On
29th April 1700 the Countess married Lord Tarbet, who
in 1703 became the Earl of Cromartie. The Countess of
Wemyss and Cromartie was a lady of marked ability.
She died on llth March 1705. The Earl wrote a very
pretty inscription for a tomb. He writes of himself as
her spouse, and concludes thus :
Whilst you lived there was not another more blessed than he.
Living you made him young, but by your death have made him
He, mourning, has raised this tomb to you as a pledge of love.
Nor will he restrain the grief due to you.
The choicest and most delightful of women was born at the
Castle of Wemyss, 1st January 1659, died llth March 1705 at the
Palace of Whitehall. The happy mother of the Wemyss family,
by her son David, of her first husband, James Lord Baron of Burnt-
island, of the Leven and Northesk families, by her daughters Anna
David, third Earl of Wemyss, succeeded to the estates
in 1705. He had inherited all the enterprise of his grand-
father, the great Earl David, and the fifteen years which
stood between the date of his succession and his death
were years of activity at the coal pits and the salt works
of Wemyss and Methil. He tried glassmaking in the
Glass Cove. In 1706 Lord Wemyss was appointed one of
the Commissioners for the Treaty of Union between
England and Scotland, and through the debates in Parlia-
ment supported the Union. He was one of the sixteen
peers chosen to represent the nobility of Scotland in the
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS. 275
Parliament of Westminster. For the discharge of his
Parliamentary business Earl David removed to London
and took up his residence in Soho Square. Neither the
Earl nor his family had much relish for the "rattle and
the pleasures of London," and he tells us that he visited
no more than just to " keep up mannerly with the world."
Earl David first married Lady Anna Douglas, only
daughter of William first Duke of Queensberry. On the
13th February 1700, just two years after the marriage,
Lady Anna's clothes took fire while at her private devo-
tions, and she sustained such injuries that she died on the
23rd of the same month. In 1708 the Earl married Miss
Mary Robinson, eldest daughter of Sir John Robinson of
Formingwood. His third wife was Elizabeth, daughter of
Henry Lord Sinclair. Lord Wemyss lost his eldest son,
a promising young man of 17 years, by death, and he was
left with only the other son of his first marriage when he
wedded his third wife. A son and two daughters were
born of the third marriage. Lord Wemyss died on 15th
James the fourth Earl of Wemyss was born on 30th
August 1699, and was the younger of the two sons of the
third Earl and Lady Anna Douglas. James was an infant
of but a few months old when his mother lost her life by
her clothes taking fire. Andrew Ramsay, the tutor of
James and his elder brother David, in writing to a friend,
says : " I have nothing to interrupt me but an hour or
two attendance at night upon two of the most innocent,
sweet, sprightly boys I ever knew." Earl James married
the only daughter and heiress of Colonel Francis Charteris
of Annisfield and Newmills, in the county of Haddington.
The Earl devoted a great deal of attention to his own
estates, and took the active oversight of the coal mining
276 RAMBLES Itf SCOOtflE AtfD WEMYSS.
and salt manufacturing industries of Methil and Wemyss.
Colonel Charteris, the Countess' father, died in 1730. In
1729 he made a disposition of his property in favour of
his daughter's second son, Francis Wemyss, who was to
assume the surname of Charteris. Provision was also
made for the other children, but the stipulations were
such that the Earl could not assent to them, and he and
his wife separated. David Lord Elcho, the Earl's eldest
son, took an active part in the rebellion of 1745. He
escaped to the Continent after Culloden, but his pro-
perty was confiscated by the Crown. The Earl died
on 21st March 1756, and his remains were interred in
the Church of Wemyss on 8th April. Lord Elcho,
who remained an exile in France, was attainted by
Act of Parliament for the part he had played as a
colonel in the first troop of Horse Guards of Prince
Charlie, and therefore could neither succeed to the estates
nor the titles.
In 1750 the Earl of Wemyss made a settlement by
which the family estates were on his death to devolve on
his second son, Francis Wemyss Charteris, if Lord Elcho
predeceased the Earl. If Lord Elcho survived the Earl,
the estates of Wemyss were to go to James, the third son.
James could succeed to the estates but not to the titles.
Through the eldest son being attainted the titles fell
dormant, and so continued until the death of Lord Elcho
in Paris in 1787.
In consequence of the settlement of Colonel Charteris,
the Hon. Francis Wemyss assumed the name and arms of
Charteris, and in 1771 he obtained an Act of Parliament
authorising him to use and bear the name of Charteris.
On the death of Lord Elcho he succeeded to the title of
Earl of Wemyss, and since then the titles and honours
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS 277
have remained with the Charteris family on the other side
of the Forth.
The Hon. James Wemyss, who succeeded to the
Wemyss estates on the death of the fourth Earl, was
born on 23rd February 1726. He chose the navy as a
profession, and attained the rank of lieutenant at a com-
paratively early age ; but he soon cut connection with the
navy and took up a Parliamentary career. At Dysart,
on 29th August 1757, he married his cousin, Lady Eliza-
beth Sutherland, the only daughter of William sixteenth
Earl of Sutherland. In 1762 Mr Wemyss succeeded
General St Glair as Member of Parliament for the county
of Fife. In 1768 he was defeated by Colonel Scott, but
was returned for Sutherlandshire. On the death of
Colonel Scott in 1775, Mr Wemyss was offered a walk
over in Fife, but he preferred to sit for the county which
had stood by him at a time of trial. Mr Wemyss kept a
watchful eye on his collieries and salt works, and did much
for the development of the minerals. He died in Edin-
burgh in May 1786, in the sixty -first year of his age.
He was succeeded by General William Wemyss, who
had a distinguished military career. General Wemyss
was returned to Parliament for the county of Sutherland
in 1784. In 1787 he vacated his seat and stood for his
native county. He was opposed by Sir John Henderson
of Fordell, but was elected by a large majority. Sir John
protested against the election of General Wemyss on
account of his holding the office of Deputy- Adjutant-
General of Scotland, but the protest was not effective.
The General was re-elected for Fife in 1790, and again
in 1808. In 1788 he married Frances Erskine, eldest
daughter of Sir William Erskine of Torrie, Bart. In 1786
Colonel Wemyss was appointed Deputy- Adjutant-General
278 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
of the Forces in Scotland with the rank of major in the
army. In 1798 he was promoted to the rank of major-
general. He added much to the amenities of the estate of
Wemyss by planting trees. General Wemyss died on 14th
February 1822 at Wemyss Castle.
General William Wemyss was succeeded by his eldest
son, Admiral James Erskine Wemyss, who was born in
1789. Mr Wemyss joined the Tonnant in 1802, under
Sir Edward Pellew. Between 1802 and 1809, when he
sailed in the Culloden, he saw much hard service. On
12th April 1812 he was advanced to the rank of com-
mander, and assumed the command of the Pylades. Cap-
tain Wemyss took an active share in the naval operations
against Genoa, and when it fell into the hands of the
British, in April 1814, he received the public thanks of
Captain Josias Rowley. In the same year he was ap-
pointed acting captain of the Rainbow. He retired in
December 1814, continuing to hold his rank, which was
advanced in 1850 to rear-admiral.
Shortly after leaving the Rainbow, Admiral Wemyss
resolved to take up a political career, and in 1820 he was
chosen as the representative of the county of Fife. He
represented Fife until 1830, when a vote in favour of the
Reform Bill cost him his seat. Under the extended
franchise in 1832, however, Admiral Wemyss was re-
turned unopposed. In 1835 Colonel Lindsay of Balcarres
tried to oust him, but was beaten by two to one for his
pains. The Hon. James Bruce, who afterwards became
Lord Elgin, next championed the Tory cause ; but he
sustained even a more crushing defeat than Colonel
Lindsay. In 1841 Mr Wemyss' seat was supposed to be
so impregnable that he received no opposition, and he
retained the seat until 1847, when Parliament was dis-
THE PARISH OF WEMYSS. 279
solved, and he announced that he would not again seek
It was in 1822 that Admiral Wemyss succeeded to the
paternal inheritance of Wemyss. Fourteen years after
his succession to the barony of Wemyss, he inherited the
baronies of Torrie and Lundin through his maternal uncle,
Sir John Drummond Erskine of Torrie. The barony of
Lundin was afterwards sold by Admiral Wemyss Ad-
miral Wemyss died at Wemyss Castle on 3rd April 1854.
James Hay Erskine Wemyss, who was born at Wemyss
Castle on 27th August 1829, succeeded his father in the
baronial estates of Wemyss and Torrie on 3rd April 1854.
On the retirement of Mr John Fergus of Strathore in
1859, Mr Wemyss came forward as a candidate for the
county of Fife. He was opposed by his cousin, Lord
Loughborough, afterwards Lord Rosslyn. The contest is
spoken of to this day as a keen one. Mr Wemyss polled
1087 votes and Lord Loughborough 850. Although a
Whig, Mr Wemyss held advanced views on many ques-
tions. In recognition of his ancient lineage and his public
services, Mr Wemyss was in the opening days of 1864
appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the county, an office which
had been held by his late father. Unfortunately he did
not live long to enjoy the honours which were showered
upon him. In November 1863 Mr Wemyss caught a severe
cold. The cold settled on his lungs during the winter,
and on 29th March 1864 he died. He was only 36 years
of age. Mr Wemyss' remains were brought from London,
and were laid to rest in the family aisle near the Parish
Church of East Wemyss. Four years before his death,
Mr Wemyss had executed a trust-settlement in favour of
his wife '(who was a daughter of the Hon. John Kennedy
Erskine of Dun), the Earl of Munster, Sir David Baird of
280 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Newbyth, Bart., and Mr Robert Cathcart of Pitcairly.
The chief burden of the trusteeship soon devolved on Mrs
Wemyss, and she managed the trust in a manner which
brought nothing but compliments from all who had the
pleasure of her acquaintance in and outwith the county.
At the opening of Methil dock in 1887, Mr Wemyss, the
present laird, said :
" In 1870 a wet dock was added to the harbour at West Wemyss
by my mother, Mrs Wemyss, who has been a trustee during my
minority on the Wemyss estates. Her name, gentlemen, as you
who are not strangers here to-day know, will in our local records,
aye, and even outside of them, be handed down to posterity as a
woman who more than did her duty in that position of life which
she so judicially and ably adorned."
Mrs Wemyss died in February 1895, and her remains
were buried at Wemyss.
When his father died, in March 1864, Mr Randolph
Erskine Wemyss, the present laird, was in his sixth year.
On Mr Wemyss attaining his majority, on llth July 1879,
a conveyance of the lands, of Wemyss-shire was made by
Mrs Wemyss and the remaining trustees in his favour,
and by the authority of the Court of Session he disentailed
the lands of Torrie, Methil, Buckhaven, and Lochhead.
Mr Wemyss is a striking personality : a man of impulses,
who has inherited all the enterprise and the restless energy
of his ancestor the great Earl David. When in his 'teens
he gave evidence of boundless activity, and as the years
pass the same characteristic is exhibited in even a greater
degree. Before he was of full age and legally entitled to
act for himself, he had arranged for the carrying through
of the Thornton-Buckhaven railway, a scheme, involving
an expenditure of 25,000. In 1883 he purchased the
Leven dock at a cost of 12,000, and in 1886 had con-
THE PARISH OP WEMYSS.
structed Methil dock and given a much-needed impulse to
the development of the coalfields of the county of Fife.
On the Wemyss estate to-day Mr Weunyss is working out
R. G. E. Wemyss, Esq. of Wemyss and Torrie.
a series of schemes. His plans of coal development include
undertakings which are calculated to raise the annual coal
output of the Wemyss Coal Company from 700,000 tons
282 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND VVEMYSS.
to 2,000,000 tons a year ; he contemplates a new brick-
work, has built the new village of Denbeath, and was the
original promoter of the Kirkcaldy and Leven tramways.
Representing as he does a family which has one of the
longest and purest of Scottish pedigrees, and which for
centuries rendered distinguished services to the State, no
surprise need be expressed at the fact that Mr Wemyss
has had ambitions to enter Parliament. He contested
West Fife in 1889 and 1895, and his defeat on both occa-
sions was entirely due to the fact that he split with the
Gladstonian party on the Irish Home Rule problem. Mr
Wemyss was returned to the Council Board of the burgh
of Buckhaven, Methil, and Innerleveu in November 1904,
and on taking his seat as a councillor was elected provost.
He is a Justice of the Peace for the county, and is the
representative of the burgh of Buckhaven, Methil, and
Innerleven at the Fife County Council.
THE WEMYSS AND DISTRICT TRAMWAYS.
IN the winter of 1904, Mr R. G. E. Wemyss of Werayss
Castle launched a scheme for connecting the towns and
villages in the parishes of Wemyss and Scoonie with the
burgh of Kirkcaldy by a system of electric tramways.
Whon the scheme was first mooted, it was intended that
the line should terminate at the bridge across the river
Leven, at the western entrance to the burgh of Leven.
By appeals from the community of Leven, however. Mr
Wemyss was induced to extend the line to the burgh and
make the terminus in Durie Street. A Provisional Order
for the construction of the tramways was given in March
1905 by a Parliamentary Committee, sitting in Edinburgh,
and in August of the same year the Wemyss Tramway
Order Confirmation Act was passed by Parliament.
When Mr Wemyss was promoting the tramway scheme
through its initial stages, the Board of Trade laid down as
a condition of their giving sanction to proceed that a com-
pany should be formed on an early date. In terms of
this condition, a company was formed in November, taking
the name of " The Wemyss and District Tramways Com-
pany, Limited." The authorised capital of the Company
is 55,000-9000 6 per cent, cumulative shares of 5 each,
and 10,000 ordinary shares of 1 each. The Company
also issued 30,000 of 4| per cent, debentures. The first
board of directors was : Messrs John Oswald of Dunni-
kier ; Joseph Budge, Wemyss Castle Office ; Archibald
284 RAMBLES IN SCOONIE AND WEMYSS.
Bowman, Buckhaven ; William Shepherd, solicitor and
bank agent, Leven ; and Stephen Sellon, M.Inst.C.E.
(managing director). Mr J. Ogilvy Shepherd, Leven, was
appointed secretary. It was intimated that Mr Wemyss
would join the board after the line was handed over to
the Company. Mr Sellon, the managing director, has had
great experience of tramway work throughout the country,
and a report by him on the Wemyss project showed a net
revenue of 5925 per annum after meeting all working
expenses and a liberal allowance for depreciation. His
details were as follows :^-
From the net revenue of 5925
There falls to be deducted interest on 30,000 4J
per cent, debenture stock - - 1350
Dividend on 30,000 preference shares
at 6 per cent. .... 1800
Leaving a surplus of 2775
The Order and Act authorised the construction of a
line of tramways and tramroads, to be worked on the
overhead electric trolley system, commencing at the eastern
terminus of the Kirkcaldy Corporation Tramways at Ross-
lyn Street, Kirkcaldy, and connected by a physical junction
with the electric tramways of Kirkcaldy Corporation, and
running thence eastwards through the parish of Kirkcaldy
and Dysart and the parishes of Wemyss and Scoonie, and
serving the villages and towns of West Wemyss, Coaltown
of Wemyss, East Wemyss, Buckhaven, Links of Buck-
haven, Denbeath, Methil, Crossroads, Innerleven, and
Leven, with an optional extension to the burgh of Dysart,
The track length of the tramways and tramroads, exclud-
ing Dysart, is about 7| miles, and including the extension
to Dysart it will measure about 8j miles. Direct running
286 THF. PARISH OF WEMYSS.
powers over the system of the Kirkcaldy Corporation tram-
ways to the centre of the town were acquired, conform to
agreement between the Provost, Magistrates, and Coun-
cillors of the burgh of Kirkcaldy and Mr Wemyss.
By an agreement entered into between the Wemyss
Coal Company and the Tramway Company, the Coal
Company erected and are to maintain an electric power
station on a piece of ground situated near the village of
Denbeath and to supply the Company with electric power.
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